Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Movie review: 'Life Before Her Eyes' shimmers


The Life Before Her Eyes: Drama. Starring Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood. Directed by Vadim Perelman. (R. Ninety minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)

Most movies contract on reflection, but "The Life Before Her Eyes" spreads out and maintains expanding. Thoroughly thought through and photographed with imaginativeness and psychological penetration, it's the merchandise of a very astute directorial hand. Open up the paper on any given Friday, and you'll read about good and pretty good movies, but this is something in another conference - emotionally sophisticated, humane and deserving talking about for hours.

In fact, a treatment would probably work better than a reappraisal - but not here, because the treatment I'm talking about could only take topographic point among people who've already seen the film from start to finish. "The Life Before Her Eyes" is very much of a piece, and the most of import things to be said in its favour are things that return in the film as a whole. Eventually - in a few weeks, or a month, or maybe when the film come ups out on DVD - we'll calculate out a manner to have got that more than thorough discussion. In the meantime, there are still tons of things to state about "The Life Before Her Eyes" that won't kill its mystery.

The film features, first of all, a hands-down extraordinary public presentation by Evan Rachel Wood, as a high school senior who witnessers a atrocious Columbine-like massacre. In her acting calling thus far, Wood is evocative of Ryan Gosling, in that she's maturate beyond her years, full of fire and inspiration and in ownership of an ability to play multiple emotions simultaneously. (That necessitates not really playing them, but feeling them.)

Wood's endowment was already unmistakable in "Thirteen" and "Down in the Valley," but in "The Life Before Her Eyes," her dispute is greater and her victory is complete. She plays Diana, a loose, adventurous girl, who is best friends with Maureen (Eva Amurri), a church-going evangelical Christian.

Diana desires nil more than to acquire out of small-town America, where she experiences mired, while Maureen have her life mapped out. She desires a husband, children and have no involvement in ever leaving the town where she grew up. Yet in that manner that sometimes happens, and especially at that age, the two misses are inseparable. At one point, they mention to themselves as "The Virgin and the Whore" and detect that between the two of them, they incarnate the traditional originals of Horse Opera art.

What's especially to enjoy in Wood's public presentation is the manner she demoes Diana's adventurous side while suggesting a more than sober, perceptive and realistic core underneath. In this, she is aided by Emil Stern's book (adapted from Laura Kasischke's novel), which suggests in this direction, without hitting it too hard.

Uma Thurman plays Princess Diana 15 old age later, as an fine art professor with a hubby and child, who is haunted by what she witnessed old age before. The life that was in Wood's eyes isn't present in Thurman's, and we experience the weight of calamity and scruples every minute she is onscreen.

Thurman's is not as brassy a function as Wood's, but it's a public presentation that's well-considered and just right, though the intelligence of Thurman's attack can be best understood and appreciated only in retrospect. The narrative doesn't follow a additive course of study but surrogates between the two Dianas.

In moving from the present into the hereafter and alternating between memory and imagination, Perelman ("The House of Sand and Fog") artfully utilizes collage and slow movement to crystallize moments, creating a human race steeped in memory, in which life is experienced as a sort of in progress recollection.

The past is inescapable, the topographic point to go back to for life and sustenance, while the present is a walking dream.

-- Advisory: This movie incorporates violence, blood, sexual situations, strong linguistic communication and drug use.

E-mail Paddy Sieur de LaSalle at .

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