Playing Catch-Up

Two weeks after my knee surgery and I'm still a bit wobbly. At least that's the excuse I'm using to explain a longer than usual silence in this space. In fact, an entire week spent at home, followed by Passover would probably meant some delay in posting anyway.

Mind you, I haven't been entirely idle. My review of the new documentary Constantine's Sword is in Jewish Week, and I spent the last few days working my way through screeners for Tribeca (about which more on the Jewish Week site Thursday).

Then there's The Life Before Her Eyes, the second feature from Vadim Perlman. I haven't seen House of Sand and Fog, so I can't put the film into a career context, but on the strength of Eyes, I'm in no hurry to rectify that omission. The current film, adapted by Emil Stern from a novel by Laura Kasischke, is a ponderous family melodrama about Diana (Uma Thurman), a school teacher who is being assailed by memories of her wild youth, including a high-school shooting to which she was a terrified witness. (Back then, she was Evan Rachel Wood, by the way.) The film is ponderous, galumphing through an intricate web of flashbacks, fantasy sequences and delusions at a glacial pace. It finishes with a twist ending of startling transparency and foolishness, one that will not surprise anyone who has ever watched an episode of The Twilight Zone. But before that, the film founders on its own sense of importance and a numbing lack of humor. Dour and sour, The Life Before Her Eyes is barely redeemed by Pawel Edelman's shimmering cinematography (and that is put to better use in Andzrej Wajda's Katyn, on which more next time).

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