Monday, April 28, 2008

Before You Die, Uma Thurman's Career Flashes Before Your Eyes

Having never had a near-death experience, I have no idea how true it is that your life flashes before your eyes before you die. But given my actress, um, proclivities I wouldn’t be surprised if before I die, Uma Thurman’s life flashes before mine. She’s long been a divisive actress but whatever her flaws, she’s easy on the eyes.

Uma Thurman, even prettier than flowers. Well done God.

If one were feeling generous one could say roughly the same thing about her latest showcase, the drama The Life Before Her Eyes. It doesn’t want for surface beauty. But let’s set generosity aside, beauty being skin deep.

The Life Before Her Eyes is based, faithfully I hear, on the acclaimed novel by Laura Kasischke. It’s the story of two teenage girls whose lives are interrupted by a high school shooting. This might read like a spoiler but it’s early in the picture: the girls are trapped at gunpoint by a murderous classmate and asked to decide who should live and who should die. It’s a Sophie’s Choice moment but since it’s the kick off point to the story it lacks the potency of that wrenching reference point. The story splits itself in two, following one of the girls (Diana) as both an adolescent in the days before the shooting and as an adult still suffering survivor’s guilt and depression as the 15th anniversary of the shooting approaches...

Read the Full Review @ Pajiba


Glenn said...

Apparently the director is actually going around telling people/interviewers/etc how the movie ends, which I find odd.

Anonymous said...

Yeah...I knew we wouldn't see eye to eye on this one.

There are some things that I do agree with...the full return to the shooting several times, for example. I think one less trip to the bathroom would have been better, and we don't need to see the teacher outside the door every time it opens.

Don't forget, when thinking about the opening tiltes, by the way, that the original title was In Bloom. So, the credits are artsy and In Bloom. A title that was a lot more subtle and fitting than the Lifetime movie title they settled on.

I also saw this in Toronto, and the director, or the distributor made a few changes to help it play to a wider audience. I wish he hadn't, because my feeling was...if you didn't get the end, you probably voted for Bush. So, therefore, in the new edit, the ending was a bit more spelled out. Shame. He also removed some images that tripped and stuttered on the screen...letting you know that something was "off" far sooner. I missed those as well. One in particular, a butterfly.

I thought both Eva and Evan were practically flawless. They both had felt life, and captured my heart. I grieved for them both at the end. One of the truest portrayals of female friendship I've ever seen in any movie.

I think you are wrong about Evan. This was her best performance since thirteen, and Diana was far more mature, courageous and knowing than her past roles have been. I did not find similarity in Diana to any of her past roles, other then her being called "wild". I related to her more because of her outsider status and the struggle she was having with herself and with her environment to over come that.

Their "fight" scene in school..."the heart is the strongest muscle"...there were two young women sitting next to me who were both crying. It may be a very female thing, but I think not. Who hasn't felt like the "slut"? The name may be different, but the lack of self worth isn't.

I also thought Uma did well. She did have a humorless role to play, so, it was tough. But, she was good. I do wish that they would have injected some humor in the grown Diana, since the young one was pretty witty.

Anyways...I still love the movie. So, one less return to the bathroom, and that yucky scene about the crosses being unborn babies I would have cut....otherwise, I give it two snaps in a circle! Worth the effort. Top knotch performances.

Anonymous said...


Hollywood reporter and Vanity Fair disagree with you, both singled out Uma, so apparently that's not such a bad role.

Anonymous said...

D ?

Just because it has a somewhat preachy/conservatice viewpoint ?

Uma was great in this. Wait until My Zinc Bed, she'll get plenty of awards attention.

Next year she's in a dramedy produced by none other than Christine Vachon, who's got a good track record when it comes to producing little indies that could. Uma might be back in the Oscar race.

And Eloise in Paris could be a hit, who knows ? After all the books are very popular so all the little girls and their families will flock to the theater

Anonymous said...

Go Uma !!


saruman --i'm glad some people are liking it, There's enough opinions to go around ... but if i based my opinions on what other people think, i'd have no business sharing mine ;)

tippi --- the D is for other things to as mentioned in the review. I particularly thought that the ending was ludicrous

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Now, now people. Nathaniel giving a D? Think Cotillard, think Cotillard.

(I have to since Uma is on my Actress Psychic Entry List :P)

Question Nath: what is your lowest rated movie that won a lead acting Oscar?

Anonymous said...

You're dissapointing me, Nat.

Uma Thurman is not an interesting actor because she's easy on the eyes.

Yes, she had a few bombs recently, but still she has a good résumé. Overall she's been in more good films than Blanchett for instance.

Every actress who has

- Dangerous Liaisons
- The Adventure of Baron Munchausen
- Henry & June
- Pulp Fiction
- Beautiful girls
- Gattaca
- Les Misérables
- Sweet and lowdown
- Tape
- Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2
on her résumé could consider herself a lucky one.

I don't think you can be cast in movies directed by Gilliam, Frears, Tarantino, Allen, Woo, August, Ivory, Nair, Page, Van Sant just because you're "easy on the eyes"

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Uma had such a strong fanbase.
She fell a bit under the radar here in the US but she's still viewed as megastar in Europe.

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't think it's a great film, but it's not as bad as a D. It's B-/C+ territory.

Uma is very good in it. I agree, she's better at characterizations than internal characters, but she did a good job.

Maybe Watts would have been better, because this character requires an actor whose strenght is naturalistic acting.

Yet Uma comes off as vulnerable enough to be believable. There are flaws behind the beauty.

That's why I had problems with Blanchett in Notes on a scandal, where I think Thurman would have been beter. Blanchett did not seem vulnerable enough. Thurman can project vulnerability more easily

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to Uma (38) and Michelle (50) !!

God was in a good mood on April 29th


rihanna i didn't say that!
I love UMA partially because she's beautiful yes. But i never claimed that was all there was to her. I've been a staunch defender of her work on many an ocassion. and I think I amply praised her best work later in this review.

I just don't think this character is interesting and that she's the right person for it.

alex -daniel day-lewis also. a very good day for movie star arrivals

Anonymous said...

You thought the ending was ludicrous? The ending was the whole story.
I am kinda tired of the whole "it's a twist ending".
That is the what would you prefer?

The whole young Diana story line was everything that lead her to the decision she makes in the bathroom...the older Diana is everything that might have been had she made a different decision.

D was way harsh.

Anonymous said...

Actually it was a very good move for Uma to take on this role, I was tired of watching her in comedies.

Now hoepfully My Zinc Bed and Motherhood will turn out good and pave her way to more nominations