Diana and Maureen are in the girls’ room, gossiping about boys and bio between classes, when shots ring out. It’s the sound of an assault rifle wielded by Michael Patrick, the school nerd, on a violent, Columbine-like rampage. How do we know? “Yesterday in trig he told me he was going to bring a gun to school!” Diana explains, just as Michael Patrick bursts through the door. The two girls are cornered, and the lanky gunman, taking some time to reload a weapon that’s bigger than he is, gives the girls a choice: Which one should he kill?
This scene is the catalyst for the events of Vadim Perelman’s adaptation of Laura Kasischke’s novel The Life Before Her Eyes—which seems a little odd, as the rest of the film has ostensibly nothing to do with suburban high school rampages. What it offers instead is a reasonably well made, if hopelessly overblown melodrama, which oversteps its mark with pretensions of narrative complexity and social currency. But exploitative though The Life Before Her Eyes clearly is, it’s something of a blessing that its treatment of this event is so glib and cursory—an entire film from Perelman on this subject would be unbearable.
Click here to read Leo Goldsmith’s review of The Life Before Her Eyes.