The Life Before Her Eyes kind of spoils its own plot twist with its title. Nonetheless, it soldiers on to tell the tale of Diana, a rebellious teen living in an idyllic Connecticut university town. When a student at her school goes postal, Columbine style, Diana finds herself in the bathroom with her best friend and the shooter, who taunts them over which of the two girls he's going to shoot. The film toggles between Diana as a teen and as an adult 15 years later, on the anniversary of the event.
The most striking aspect of this film is its look: Beautiful shots of swimming pools, falling leaves, and dead birds intersperse the film's narrative scenes, taking some edge off the otherwise pensive pacing. While young Diana (Evan Rachel Wood) goes through mishaps and pals around with her friend Maureen (Eva Amurri), older Diana (Uma Thurman) is wracked with emotional instability despite an apparently happy life with a professor husband and young daughter. Not much happens; when an older man knocks up the young Diana and she subsequently winds up getting an abortion, it feels like a manufactured event used to fill out the movie's 90-minute runtime (not to mention yet another rather heavy-handedly shrill and finger-waggy anti-choice admonishment, a point of view that seems awfully common around Hollywood these days).
Another of the film's strengths is in the performances delivered by both Thurman and Wood, although the lack of resemblance (okay, they're both blonde) and a most likely intentional difference in character (it's very hard to believe that a girl like Diana would live out her life in the same small town of her origin) severely try one's suspension of disbelief. It makes sense in the end, but until then, it's distracting. It's also unfortunate that the strength of these actors is over-indulged on thickly wrought melodrama.
Depending on whether you've read Laura Kasischke's novel, which The Life Before Her Eyes is based on, the film's final "ta-da" plot twist is either anticipated or obvious and anticlimactically unoriginal. Either way, the whole thing seems like a puffy, overblown fuss, more convinced than convincing of its weight.