Diana (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maureen (Eva Amurri) are two average high-school students, chatting and killing time in the girl's bathroom one day when their conversation is interrupted by a noise from way off in the distance. It sounds like a bundle of firecrackers being set off, and causes them to quickly shut up and perk up their ears. The sounds are repeated, closer and louder, and before they have time to react to what is happening the bathroom door bursts open and a troubled, wild-eyed student is suddenly walking toward them, pointing a machine gun. This is the opening of In Bloom, the new, much-anticipated film from Vadim Perelman, director of House of Sand and Fog and the upcoming Angelina Jolie film, Atlas Shrugged. Based on Laura Kasischke's novel The Life Before Her Eyes, In Bloom follows two parallel timelines: one that begins in the weeks preceding that opening scene and one that jumps ahead a good fifteen years, focusing on a much-changed Diana, now being played by a jumpy and tense Uma Thurman.
The exact timeline of the film is left murky, with the scenes featuring Young Diana no different, stylistically, than the 'present day' scenes. Young Diana doesn't appear at all to be living in the past, and Older Diana doesn't inhabit any kind of futuristic world. It's a somewhat puzzling, but acceptable dramatic choice for Perelman to make, and he presses the intimate connection between the two timeframes by aggressively juxtaposing them. Scenes in Young Diana's world sometimes have a duration of only a few seconds, before we cut back to Older Diana's world for a few more seconds, and so on. Older Diana is an average teacher with a husband and an emotionally troubled daughter, but she still focuses much of her energy on replaying that day in her mind over and over, torturing herself for some reason that's unknown to us. Until the closing moments, Perelman chooses to hide from us exactly what happened in that bathroom, although it's not much of a mystery. I had already written the correct answer in my notes fifteen minutes into the film.