Is The Life Before Her Eyes Based on a True Story?

Directed by Vadim Perelman, 2007’s ‘The Life Before Her Eyes’ is a drama thriller film revolving around the traumatic fallout after a tragic school shooting. With Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood as the same character in different timelines, the film follows Diana during pivotal moments of her life. At seventeen, Diana and her best friend, Maureen, are held at gunpoint during an active school shooting. Fifteen years into the future, Diana deals with the memories of her youth as the anniversary of the tragic incident nears.

The film circles the theme of trauma, focusing on the effect teenage experiences have in shaping them. In order to highlight the same, the film oscillates between two chapters of Diana’s life and creates a compelling and relatable character. Therefore, regardless of the film’s puzzling timeline, the narrative remains grounded in its topical subject matter. Due to the same, viewers might wonder about the story’s relationship to reality. Here is everything we know about the origin of ‘The Life Before Her Eyes.’

Is The Life Before Her Eyes a True Story?

No, ‘The Life Before Her Eyes’ is not based on a true story. With a screenplay by Emil Stern, it is an adaptation of the eponymous 2002 novel by Laura Kasischke. Like the film, the novel follows a young Diana with big dreams and ambitions that are put to risk when she’s forced to make a choice that will forever change the trajectory of her life. With a focus on femininity and a girl’s first steps into womanhood, Kasischke’s novel builds a mysterious world with a fascinating final twist. The film mirrors these elements and brings an engaging visual angle to them.

In an interview discussing his film’s central theme, Director Perelman described it as: “The beauty of life and how fragile it is—it’s a celebration of life.” Although the film’s base premise primarily revolves around a school shooting, most of the plot focuses on the before and after of the devastating event. Up until the climax, the film lures you into the life and promising future of Diana McFee. By doing so, it highlights the importance of life without romanticizing its ugly bits. As such, the film strives to represent Diana’s experiences, both mundane and significant, in a realistic light.

Meanwhile, real life inherently inspires the plot’s central conflict. School shootings made up a significant social issue at the time of the film’s release. Since then, that issue has only become more pressing. In 1999, a couple of years before Kasischke’s novel, Colorado’s Columbine High School saw a historic school-shooting event. According to The Washington Post, as of now, there have been 380 school shootings since the incident at Columbine.

Due to the same, both film and the novel ‘The Life Before Her Eyes’ are deeply rooted in reality, regardless of their fictional settings and characters. When discussing the film’s link to recent school shooting events, Uma Thurman said, “I think it’s, unfortunately, happening [you know] school violence, child violence, on such a repetitive and ever-increasing fashion across the country that all of us could be drawn together by it. At least in trying to understand it, trying to figure it out, trying to— somehow include it in our realm of possibilities and try to change it.”

Similarly, actress Evan Rachel Wood talked about her experience filming the school shooting scene and said, “It was eerie. There was a school shooting even while we were filming. We were reading some of the testaments from the students, and it was right out of our script. It made the film feel even more important. These are innocent kids with their whole lives ahead of them.”

Ultimately, ‘The Life Before Her Eyes’ is not based on a true story. Instead, it’s based on a novel built around a traumatic real-life issue. As such, the film can resonate with a vast audience through its fleshed-out protagonist and contemporary setting. The film incorporates a young girl’s sense of identity into a riveting plotline about the lack of safety for many kids’ futures. By doing so, it creates a compelling and thought-provoking tale.

Read More: Best School Shooting Movies of All Time