This could be construed as a spoiler, but I really have to ask: Can dead people suffer from PTSD? Can corpses give birth to naughty children? Does survivor's guilt require that the guilty party actually survive the trauma? These and other stupid questions will occur to you, fleetingly, at the faux-provocative conclusion of The Life Before Her Eyes, following a plot twist that director Vadim Perelman has suggested knowing ahead of time will actually enhance your enjoyment of the movie. I doubt it.

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Evan Rachel Wood plays Diana as a succulent woman-child (the camera lingers creepily on her calves, even as it obsesses over her best friend's breasts), with Uma Thurman as grown-up Diana, in a narrative that jumps forward and backward through time so frequently, it seems designed to confuse. An unrepentant rebel, the young Diana is fast friends with Maureen (Eva Amurri), an uptight goody-goody. They like to lounge in bikinis at a neighbor's swimming pool and have pretentious conversations about the future. But when a Columbine-like massacre takes place at their high school, their friendship is put to the test. Thanks to overblown flashbacks (in which bullet-riddled restroom plumbing provides a gentle rain shower), we get to experience the moment of truth in several successively longer iterations.

Thurman's Diana, meanwhile, is going crazy: We know this because she loses her temper with her child and fails to clean the house. But is it because of the school shooting? Or the abortion and traumatic recovery she experienced around the same time? The Life Before Her Eyes has its bright spots—Wood is irritatingly great at the half-seductive, half-self-destructive thing—but every retouched color (the tomatoes in this movie are from another planet) and dramatic visual effect (blotches of blood keep morphing into other things) serves to pollute the movie's already sloppy metaphysics with an unpleasant strain of hysteria.

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