Home > Reviews > THE LIFE BEFORE HER EYES – James Horner


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Life Before Her Eyes is a quietly devastating drama based on the novel by Laura Kassischke, directed by Vadim Perelman and starring Uma Thurman as a woman who, 15 years after surviving a Columbine-like school tragedy in which her best friend was killed, finds herself becoming increasingly withdrawn and distant from her family, and increasingly wracked by survivors guilt, especially after attending a memorial service for the event. It’s a moving, gently shattering motion picture which features a standout performance by Thurman, and solid support by young actresses Evan Rachel Wood and Eva Amurri.

Vadim Perelman directed James Horner to an Oscar nomination in 2003 on House of Sand and Fog. That score was one of the most emotionally restrained and understated works of Horner’s career; so it is again with The Life Before Her Eyes, which can be seen as a clear companion piece to its predecessor. Muted strings, solo guitar, piano, textured electronic chords and synthesized choir form the entire instrumental complement, and throughout the score Horner’s knack for writing delicate, smooth, subtle music comes to the fore.

It’s a score about gossamer textures and subtle evocations which drifts gently, softly, lazily, creating a dream-like mood, and is notable only for its changes in timbre and occasional moments of feather-like beauty – tender piano scales in “Diana – A Future To Be…” and “Choose! Time to Decide”, a lovely, simple main theme in “Becoming Close Friends”, a brief element of starkness and urgency in “Diana Gets Hit By a Car”, and an unfashionably modest but emotionally powerful finale in “Young Diana’s Future – A Future That Could Have Been…”, a wonderful piece of through-composing which more than highlight’s Horner’s exquisite touch as a dramatist.

The only problem – with the score having virtually no memorable thematic content, and very little in the way of prominent moments of musical exclamation, and anyone who gets bored easily in a film score will likely find The Life Before Her Eyes lulling them to sleep. However, it’s worth investigating for those with the patience to do so.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • An Ordinary Day (3:54)
  • Diana – A Future To Be… (4:55)
  • Becoming Close Friends (3:32)
  • All the Memories From An Old Photo Album (4:06)
  • The Gift of a Necklace (3:59)
  • Choose! Time to Decide (3:31)
  • Diana Gets Hit By a Car (3:45)
  • Two Lives Slowly Converging (4:35)
  • Diana’s Young Conscience is Finally Formed (3:44)
  • The Memorial – The Laying of Flowers (2:31)
  • Two Worlds; The Past and the Future (2:51)
  • Young Diana’s Future – A Future That Could Have Been… (12:15)

Running Time: 53 minutes 38 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-34006 (2008)

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