(Editor's note: This review originally ran during AFI Dallas. It's being rerun this weekend in conjunction with the film's release.)
I loved House of Sand and Fog, and I've been waiting five long years to see what director Vadim Perelman would come up with next. His latest effort, The Life Before Her Eyes, starring Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood and Eva Amurri, is a lovely, nuanced film packed with imagery, and bracketed by an intriguing storyline. The film revolves around Diana, played as a teenager by Wood and an adult by Thurman; the younger Diana was a survivor of a high school shooting, as as the 15-year anniversary of the tragic event nears, the older Diana begins to unravel.
Perelman is not a director who hand-feeds his audience easy answers. With House of Sand and Fog he made heavy use of its moody, gray and brown pallette to set a dark and unsettling mood. With The Life Before Her Eyes, he turns to brilliantly saturated hues of flowers and water to create a sublime tone that evokes what's going on with Diana. The perfect life with professor husband Paul (Brett Cullen) and daughter Emma (Gabrielle Brennan) that she's worked so hard to create is a fairy tale fantasy built on an unstable foundation of unresolved guilt, and we know from the first frames that, hard as she works to sustain it, it's as fragile as the petals of the flowers that embower her garden.