You can't help but see this movie being crafted out of shards of movies past, seemingly in a cut and paste method. In the hands of a less skillful director, the film could very easily flop, but it doesn't.
An Unfinished Life isn't original, but, for those who enjoy this sort of drama, it's an opportunity to remember how, in the right circumstances, on-screen characters can touch our hearts.
Nothing unexpected happens in An Unfinished Life--the title comes from the engraving on the dead son's headstone--but Canada sure looks lovely, and the acting's pretty solid.
A film is in trouble when, despite the presence of an A-list cast and a well-regarded director, the best thing in it is a partly digitized bear.
Luke Y. ThompsonDallas Observer
Perhaps realizing that rare performances in snoozers like "The Horse Whisperer" and "The Last Castle" weren't doing him (Redford) any favors, he seems to have entered a new phase in his career, with a wealth of old man roles now open to him. He was very good in last year's "The Clearing;" he's better in this.
Mark HolcombVillage Voice
As with the director's other films, all that keeps Unfinished from being a complete, treacly bore is its robust performances.
Keith PhippsThe A.V. Club
It's corny, but the film might have worked anyway, had anyone brought a lick of conviction to the business. But Lopez--once such a promising actress--now does little but pose, and everyone else seems to have figured out that the film wasn't going anywhere before the cameras started rolling.
Scott FoundasL.A. Weekly
The 68-year-old actor (Redford) segues into full-blown irascible-old-man mode, and though the transformation isn't quite as compelling as it sounds, it's easily the best thing going for this Lasse Hallstrom–directed, Wyoming-set weepie.
Lisa SchwarzbaumEntertainment Weekly
An Unfinished Life is inert, kaput -- a middlebrow mush of platitudes rather than an okay corral of distinct characters with heartbeats. It's awful not in an exciting, uncontrolled way but in an overly controlled, narcotized way.