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  • An Unfinished Life may be the sweetest movie you'll see this year, and certainly the most beautiful. Take yourself to the theater, then look forward to the DVD.

    We are treated to watch Robert Redford play a perfect curmudgeon, crusty, craggy, a rancher named Einar Gilkyson, in his 60's who has a lot to do every day. His first duty is to take care of his best friend and long time cowboy buddy, Mitch Bradley, played by Morgan Freeman. Then he gets to milk the cows. Their friendship carries the film through the ups and downs of life, with Mitch as the guiding light to Einar's disgruntled reality.

    Unable to pull her own life together, Einar's daughter-in-law arrives with Einar's granddaugther in tow, needing a temporary place to stay. Jennifer Lopez plays Jean, and her daughter, Giff, is well played by Becca Gardner. The daughter-in-law is immediately rejected by Einar, still feeling the loss of his son and blaming her for it. They stay any way, and the story develops their lives as the four of them work out their differences while living on the ranch in a stunningly beautiful valley. Josh Lucas plays the local sheriff, a handsome man that reminds one of the younger Robert Redford. He gives spark to Lopezs character while being a complete gentleman.

    An Unfinished Life brings a man and a bear together to acknowledge each others strengths, and brings an unhappy, bitter man to realize that he still has an amazing family right in front of him. Appreciation and forgiveness, along with some adversity, show us that unity is still possible even given previous misunderstandings and alienation's.

    Every one in the film does a good job, and you feel like you have just visited the ranch and had dinner with these characters, and you want to go back for breakfast. The relationships in this film are realistic and intelligent, not sappy nor Hollywood glossy.

    This is a wonderful film and it is a great delight to watch Redford, Freeman, Lopez, Lucas and Gardner play their parts in such gorgeous scenery. There is plenty of humor in the film, and an honest look at how we work out our emotional dilemmas and hang ups and eventually bring out the best in ourselves, often by being around someone else's best.

    You will feel bested yourself, for watching this fine film. Compliments especially to Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman, a dynamic duo. They are a perfect compliment to each other, and their maturity is a great bonus to the film.
  • aharmas17 September 2005
    Some films are able to capture subtleties in a pretty straightforward manner, and this is one of them. With the very capable support of Morgan Freeman, a quite good Jennifer Lopez, and masterful work by Robert Redford, we're treated to a special film, a study of family relationships where things don't appear contrived or staged.

    People carry grudges and live with demons for many years; some are unable to even get rid of them. That's the case of Redford's character. Without a way to release himself, he has managed to create a pretty miserable existence for himself. The only redeeming moment arising from the relationship with his best friend.

    Things are bound to change with the arrival of his daughter-in-law and the granddaughter he never knew existed. The drama unfolds quite nicely and our hearts are touched along the way. It's a quiet movie, full of lovely vistas and some intense drama. It doesn't pack the punch of "Million Dollar Baby", a film which it's bound to recall because of the Freeman's character dynamics. Give yourself a treat and enjoy Redford in the comeback film of his career.
  • In order to escape from the abusive boy-friend Gary Winston (Damian Lewis), Jean Gilkyson (Jennifer Lopez) moves with her young daughter Griff Gilkyson (Becca Gardner) without previous notice to the ranch of her father-in-law Einar Gilkyson (Robert Redford) in Wyoming. Jean and Einar are disaffected, since he blames her for the death of his beloved son in a car accident. Einar is taking care of his friend Mitch Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who was attacked and seriously wounded by a bear, and he does not know that he has a grand-daughter. While Mitch heals his wounds and forgives the bear, Einar also changes his feelings regarding Jean, finally understanding that accidents happen and accepting her and loving his grand-daughter.

    "An Unfinished Life" is a beautiful tale of forgiveness, with the lead characters healing their wounds – Mitch, the ones provoked by a savage bear, and Einar his innermost feelings of loss. The cast has amazing performances, showing the importance of a director of the weight of Lasse Halltröm: Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman are unanimity, but I myself like a lot the versatile Jennifer Lopez and strongly believe that even the viewer that dislike her as actress must admit her excellent performance in this touching film. Josh Lucas is a great support actor and the favorable surprise is the performance of the young and unknown Becca Gardner. Although being a predictable story without any twist, this sensitive movie is highly recommended. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "Um Lugar para Recomeçar" ("A Place to Restart")
  • Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, and eye candy, J. Lo., along with a delightful young new comer Becca Gardener and a believable story, and you have an honest to goodness story of real people dealing with real life.

    Many will see it as a soap opera.

    As you look back at the projects Redford has been involved with, you see continuity. He likes to look into the lives of "ordinary people" living simple normal lives. No cheap tricks here. Just an honest story.

    Jean Gilkyson, (J. Lo) the young, widowed and down and out of luck daughter-in-law of Einar Gilkyson (Redford) is a battered woman in Iowa. She and her 11 year old daughter Griff escape her abusive boy friend (Lewis) from Iowa and manage to reach the dumpy Wyoming ranch of her once father-in-law. No love is lost between the two as he blames her for the untimely death of his son. (No Spoilers here!) Predictably, there is conflict and drama between the two. Add in the wonderful supporting act of Morgan Freeman as the ailing ranch hand living in a nearby cabin, a bit of romance between J. Lo. and the local sheriff, the appearance, disappearance and reappearance of the abusive boyfriend from Iowa along with the absolutely delightful performance of Becca Gardner whose eyes will mesmerize you and, "Bart the Bear" and you have well spent time and money.

    -Enjoy
  • lstratto7 October 2005
    This is a well done movie and I do believe if more people would go see it they would agree. Its a great family relationship movie and Redford as usual is great he can underplay his role and get more out of it than some actors and his relationship with Morgan Freeman is so typical of two old guys tolerating each other. The young girl however steals the movie from her adult counterparts and brings a warmth to her part not seen that often anymore. Jennifer Lopez is good but she is outshone by the others who slowly build up a good family togetherness. Of course then there is a bear thrown into the middle and "Bart" of course is good as he has been in other movies he has been in.
  • I have to say that within the past two years I've hard both positive and negative comments on the film adaptation of the book "An Unfinished Life". I for one was extremely interested upon hearing that a movie was being done with Jennifer Lynn Lopez, Robert Redford, and the brilliant Morgan Freeman. This cast for years have entertained me through splendid movies such as Selena, Out of Sight, The Way We Were, and Million Dollar Baby. Although very aware of the skepticiscm of having La Lopez in a film with Oscar performing co-stars, would prove to show ones stubbornness. Lopez gives a knockout performance and I would challenge anyone who says she was miscast for this role. Isn't it the job of the actor to travel outside of their character, and convey the feelings of another. I don't think much is needed to be said about Redford's and Morgan's heartbreaking performances. Lasse Halstrom has outdone himself again, he has brought justice to the splendid novel by Mark Spragg. I trust all of you will give this Oscar worthy movie a shot, before you draw any of your conclusions. 'An Unfinished Life' reminds me of an old family western, filled with heart and emotion. This coming from a guy whose never in his life has been quite so fond of the wild west.
  • I saw a preview of this movie last night. I have been an admirer of both Redford and Freeman for years. They are a marvelous team. I was moved by their banter and by the the caring relationship that is a result of forty years of friendship. Both give Oscar-worthy performances. Jennifer Lopez was surprisingly good as the victim of domestic abuse. The little girl who played her daughter was also excellent.

    As my sister and I left the theater, a woman with a clipboard was asking for comments. We both said, "It was great." She answered, "That's what everybody is saying. They liked the story and the actors."

    Don't miss this movie! We need more movies that focus on people, not explosions, special effects and gore.

    Margaret
  • I thought this was Redford's best acting by far. He keeps getting more talented with age. He is my favorite actor. However, he seemed a little wooden and unemotional in some of his past roles i.e. Out of Africa (even though this is one of my favorite Redford movies. The hair washing scene is so sexy!). I was just so impressed with his portrayal of an angry and bitter man. He had a depth to his character that I've never seen him convey before. If you're a Redford fan, you will truly enjoy this gorgeous and thought provoking movie. I wish Redford would win a Best Actor Oscar before he retires.

    Also, I think Morgan Freeman brings out the best in his fellow actors. He & Redford have excellent chemistry. Morgan is amazing. He has such a classy and soulful spirit.

    Everyone is perfectly cast in the movie. The little girl nearly steals the show from the seasoned actors. It's a must see. I'm looking forward to owning this movie.
  • csabarish10 March 2006
    This is the third film from the director that I saw after Chocolat n Cider Ho...I would not call this one a great piece of storytelling but I speak entirely for myself when I say, the characters do not let you go, while you watch this movie. And that is something. Each character and player when he/she is on screen is telling you so many things at a time that you get completely engrossed in their story.

    Jennifer Lopez plays a single mother running away from her abusive(typical) boy friend Damian Lewis and has no where to go but to her Father-in-law who hates her. Father-in-law is of course Robert Redford who is not looking forward to anything in life, and his only real purpose in living seems to be to take care of his wounded friend Morgan Freeman. There is Bear which wounded Freeman and is the terror element in the otherwise peaceful Wyoming (smashing locales) town and there is Josh Lucas the love interest/sheriff for Jenny's Cinderella. There is débutant Becca Gardner the even-tempered daughter of Jenny's. Camrein Maynheim (The Practice) has a supporting role. And there I finish the list of principal characters in the movie.

    Now why I am taking pains to mention each one of them is because they are who make this movie watchable. Especially Freeman,Gardner and Redford (in that order). Not that others do a bad job. But these three provide all the entertainment. None of the characters are living in what we would call normal circumstances in any way. At the same time there is nothing new about the story they are telling. It is just the way they go about telling it. Unhurriedly, through gestures and expressions, breathing life into these stereotypes. There is redemption for everyone involved and that is expected. But the story manages to teach you something, and not in a very persuasive manner. That is the redeeming feature of the movie and may be that is the flaw. It will fail to influence too many, some might even find it boring. But I guess that is Okay because for the few viewers who like an optimistic story told with compassionate characters played by expert actors, this one is worth watching.
  • As I write this review, I think of why I actually decided to see this movie. I came to the realization that it was to see Robert Redford, and Morgan Freeman - two top-notch, class actors. That said, along with the fact that I'm not a very big fan of Jennifer Lopez's, I thought the presence of Redford, and Freeman would be enough to enjoy this movie. I was wrong, not that either Redford, or Freeman's performances were nothing less than excellent, but the job done by Becca Gardner was especially wonderful. In fact, in my opinion, she stole the show. Gardner's portrayal of the Griff Gilkyson character was a special one indeed. And yes I must admit, I even enjoyed Jennifer Lopez in this movie. All in all, a very solid movie that I enjoyed so much. And the best part, it was NOT a remake.. thankfully !!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    One of the latest Miramax productions to leave the studio shelf after a lengthy hiatus is "An Unfinished Life" by director Lasse Hallstrom whose previous dramas have all focused on character-driven relationships within a small town setting.

    Robert Redford portrays Einar Gilkyson, a disgruntled recovering alcoholic and Wyoming rancher. Besides his farming duties, he must also tend to the daily care of his former ranch hand Mitch Bradley (Morgan Freeman), whose injuries from a recent bear mauling have forced him to retire.

    Einar is still grieving the death of his son in an automobile accident which occurred over a decade ago. But soon, he experiences setbacks in his recovery when his estranged daughter-in-law, Jean (Jennifer Lopez), unexpectedly arrives with her 11-year old daughter, Griff (Becca Gardner).

    Jean has just fled an abusive relationship, and with no other available refuge, is hoping to find shelter in the only place she's familiar with. At first, Einar makes it clear that she isn't welcome in his home. For years, he has harbored bitterness towards her and has held her responsible for his son's death.

    Eventually, he reluctantly agrees to allow Jean and Griff to settle into an unused storage room, and even begins warming up towards his newly-found granddaughter.

    Jean begins to stabilize her life by getting a job at a diner while finding comfort and security within the affections of the town sheriff (Josh Lucas), and forming a friendship with a fellow waitress (Camryn Manheim), who is also dealing with a tragedy of her own. She also attempts to make progress in her reconciliation with Einar.

    Meanwhile, outside enemies arrive on the homestead in the form of Jean's ex-boyfriend (Damian Lewis), returning to reclaim what is rightfully his, as well as the bear responsible for Mitch's injuries.

    The film deeply emphasizes the subjects of forgiveness, the healing of both physical and emotional wounds, as well as being set free from life's personal trappings.

    Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman, two long-established veteran performers, present a combination of easy chemistry and camaraderie throughout, reminding us of the companionship and wise guidance Freeman offered to Clint Eastwood's diamond-in-the-rough character in "Million Dollar Baby".

    Jennifer Lopez relies on the battered woman role she portrayed in another domestic abuse film, "Enough", bringing both strength and vulnerability to Jean's attributes. Here, we can learn something from this film's message, and forgive Lopez for her participation in the disastrous "Gigli". It's obvious that she can be a very capable actress if given the right material.

    As for newcomer Becca Gardner, she delivers a realistic and precocious insight throughout her role, serving as a solid anchor for all of the lost adults around her.

    The bear also deserves an honorable mention for his largely noticeable presence which serves as an important symbolic element.

    While some will find the convenient and precipitated resolutions of a decade-long feud a bit unrealistic, others will be charmed by the film's postcard scenery and satisfied with its happy ending.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Jennifer Lopez delivers a powerful performance as a recently widowed now single mother escaping from an abusive relationship. With nowhere else to go, she decides that the safest place to go and shelter herself and her daughter is moving back to the country side and that means having to go face to face with her still-grieving father-in-law played to perfection by Robert Redford. J-lo sizzles in this role, too bad she was ignored around awards season. The young actress who plays her daughter in the film steals a lot of scenes from Lopez but thankfully she doesn't steal the entire show. Morgan Freeman is also fine as a close friend of Redford's character who has been maimed by a bear, and he (Freeman) sort of serves as the conscience of the film, as usual. But nevertheless, I believe this was the role that brought him his first Academy award. Director Lasse Hallstrom achieves cinematic gold by capturing the scenic natural beauty of the countryside but not allowing it to overpower the film. Don't miss a stirring cameo performance by the eloquently divine Camryn Manheim, who plays a woman with a heartbreaking past. One thing that could have been left on the cutting room floor, was J-lo's sex scene with the sheriff (played by Josh Lucas). I mean come on, it didn't even fit the flow of the film. I know the writers and directors probably didn't want to waste Josh's hotness and J-lo's sexiness but please, sometimes sex isn't everything! This film could have easily been a perfect 10 without that stupid scene.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Nobody should ever complain after watching a Robert Redford movie. After all these years, we know exactly what he's about and what he will show us. A lot of magnificent scenery with fantastic cinematography, and an old curmudgeon unaware that he's just waiting on a chance at redemption. Redford cares deeply about his movies and he always makes them high-quality and totally out of step with the current fashion. This is a good thing if you're not particularly enthusiastic about still more comic-book flicks and space fantasies and remakes and movies based on old TV shows, along with explosions and crazy driving.

    This time around, Redford is in fine form as always, and he has skillful backup, again as always. He's not interested in hogging the screen and insists on having perfectly-tuned performances from the other characters. There's really nothing left to say about Morgan Freeman, but Jennifer Lopez is the big surprise here. De-glammed from a magazine cover goddess to a naturally pretty, stressed-out, mistake-prone woman in her mid-30s and at the end of her rope, JLo fits right in with her esteemed colleagues and in fact holds her own with them. She's rarely praised for her acting, but she certainly deserves it for this role. These three hold down the center of the film, but everybody else in the cast also does superb work. Not a single dud in the bunch.

    Redford's Einar has let himself many years ago. He's unshaven, his hair sticks out in all directions, he's not clean nor does he wear clean clothes. He clearly just doesn't give a bowel movement. When I was little, I had a great-uncle who looked the same way and visits to his house were always guaranteed to be an experience. So Einar is an archetype, and a very good one. He and Morgan Freeman's Mitch are two very badly damaged men; Einar psychologically and Mitch physically. Meanwhile, JLo's Jean has run out of options and she's forced to turn to the one man and to return to the one place that she swore she'd never go near again. At first glance, the unfinished life in the title seems to refer to Einar's long-dead son, but it turns out that it's also about Einar and Jean and Mitch. All three had their lives stopped by some tragedy and they learn to finally move on with the help of the other two.

    Anyway, "An Unfinished Life" is an enjoyable, leisurely, easy-going movie experience and I highly recommend it. Especially if you're looking for a break from our routine movie options, like I said earlier.
  • One of a best drama which shot on a beautiful county places, love to live rest of my life there. The movie was a light-heartbreaking but sweetest movie of 2005. We can say kinda similar to 'Safe haven' but end twist and characters are the differences.

    An extremely artistic, meaningful and so beautiful drama like a freshly bloomed flower on an unseason. I love Lasse Hallstrom movies, his works are not too emotional or too dramatic but always balanced. Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman were excellent as always they are, Jennifer Lopez and her daughter role who played were also so good.

    One of a best cast movie which brought a new life from its original book. My heart always welcomes this kinda fine drama movies and I highly recommend it for drama fans!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is not a film you watch for the fun of it. It's a very serious film that you watch to see fine acting...specifically from Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman.

    For Robert Redford, this role is very against-type. And he handles perfectly, giving yet another example of why he is one of the finest actors we have. Here he is a grizzled old man who has forgotten how to live. Tremendous performance.

    On the other hand, we have Morgan Freeman who plays Morgan Freeman, albeit as an old cowboy. But what more can you want than Morgan Freeman. Almost always a gem.

    Jennifer Lopez is a bit out of her league here, although she does all right. No criticism, she does her job.

    Young (then) Becca Gardner is just great as the young daughter. The other supporting actors here do their jobs.

    In terms of plot, I noticed that a couple of our reviewers said the film is predictable. Yes, I would estimate that 95% of films are predictable. It's not always about where the plot goes, but how it gets there. And that's what makes this film interesting. Again, this is not an exciting movie...it's just a story of some not-so-beautiful lives that get better.
  • I like movies that are willing to look into the soul and deal with the process of reconciliation and redemption of bitter and broken people and families. This beautifully filmed movie, shot in the lush Wyoming countryside (actually Canada), starts slow, than sneaks up on you with more meaning than you could possibly have anticipated. Old wounds die hard and unresolved guilt and blame takes its toll. This motion picture was released under the radar due to Miramax being bought by Disney. It was shelved for two years, then given a limited release, It's largely undiscovered but it does have something important to say. Not a perfect movie since there is no such thing, but it does push some deep buttons and it's worth owning a copy. Another keeper. Morgan Freeman plays a ranch hand who is bedridden due to a bear mauling and has his own demons to fight.
  • graylady228 December 2006
    I have become a true movie buff..living in the new england states and not having a lot to do,i became a movie watcher at home mainly..An unfinished life" is a very real and true account of how families should forgive..and if possible move on.it is both a sad movie,but a happy movie.I also like to see a bad guy get his just deserts.I understand where the character jean comes from, have been there done that with the wrong person, so it hit home a lot,and sadly children do suffer the chaos even in their adult lives when they witness what "Griff" witnessed with her mother,she was delightful in her innocent but grown up manner.Robert Redford i have always loved to watch his films,he always brings his character to life no matter what it is.I have seen JLO in a couple of similar movies,but i think this is her best work.Morgan Freeman as always is a great charismatic actor.He was the most centered one of the group seeing things as they are and should be.i have watched this movie so many times i can count,i have it taped for when i get the feeling of wanting to see it again,including the scenery, makes me want to be there in the vast wilderness. Even the cats in the movie brought it to life,this movie could have gone on longer and longer and i would never want to stop watching it.
  • vcdriver200421 November 2006
    I think my dad has already seen this movie 50 times.

    It's very different than other Hollywood movies for sure. The story is normal but human and it is an universal story about people and emotion.

    The bear was a nice way to symbolize the problems of our day to day life with which we always wrestle, sometimes get wounded and sometimes let them go.

    Now let's talk about the characters-Einer,Mitch,Griff,Jean . Einer, whose life has stopped after his son's death; Mitch, whose life came to a stopping situation after getting attacked by the bear; Griff, who grew up without a true family and is annoyed by her mother's boyfriend changing attitude but still loves her a lot; Jean, a widow and single mother who is living a dreadful life after her husband's death. All of them are living 'An unfinished life' . But at the end, it seems their life has started to move on.

    The story telling is great. The cast made this movie something special. Redford, Freeman showing what they can do but the kid Becca Gardner steals the show. J-LO is good but overshadowed by the excellent performances by Redford, Freeman and Gardner.

    This movie is a relief from what we say-conventional movies. I will watch this movie a 100 times-not because it is a classic, because it motivates me lot in many ways.......to fight with myself, to face self-conflict and to learn forgiveness-in a logical way.
  • wrlang2 September 2006
    An Unfinished Life is a nice film about dysfunctional families and friendship. Redford and Freeman play very good friends living on a Redford's decaying ranch whose lives were touched by several tragedies. Lopez and Gardner are the widow and daughter of Redford's son who are having great trouble finding another good man/father after the Redford's son is killed in a car accident. Redford is having a very difficult time forgiving his daughter in law, but his grandchild and Freeman often his heart. Freeman was mauled by a bear while working with Redford on his ranch and is severely injured needing a good deal of personal care from Redford. High quality acting, scenery, and directing make a tired set of story lines worth watching.
  • I loved this film, it was a beautiful story. It has its ups and its downs. Its ups= the acting, its downs= the pace. Worse films have won Oscars, so I definitely think this should be considered. At times its fantastic, at other times it just seems to raise its hand in the air frantically begging for an Oscar. This film would have been much better if it was made for the purpose of telling a great story, not for the purpose of getting an Oscar.

    Redford is great. He is cast well, and at most times owns the part of Einar Gilkyson. I am biased, however, by having read half the book before I saw the film (didn't have time to finish it). The film tried to hard to make Einar a tough guy (physically). For example, the scene where the two drunk guys come in the restaurant and harass Nina, the waitress/owner (played by Camryn Manheim). In the book, Redford just simply goes over and talks to them, and actually gets scared that they might kick his butt and another character comes in to "reprimand" them. The film has Redford smashing their heads in with a coffee pot and threatening them with a fork in the throat. I cannot decide whether I like this change or not. I cannot help but notice Redford in a different light in this film. He looks different, and his character is much different than other characters in his career. He seemed to take a risk with this character, and it turned out for the better.

    Morgan Freeman is fantastic. I walked into the movie, hoping not to see a clitche'd Freeman as the prophet/preacher/conscience of the film. I must admit, that at a lot of times, the typical Freeman does comes to the surface and he gets almost all of the proverbial lines of the film. However, unlike the typical narrator role he plays, he brings personality and humor to the part of Mitch Bradley. Mitch is not perfect, and isn't just there for the sake of having a preacher-character on the ranch. He goes through his own subplot of forgiveness, with the bear that attacked him. Many can take this scene is "corny" and a clitche, but I think his best moment in the film is his discovery of the bear on his property near the end. You can see the fear in his eyes, he's on crutches and has nowhere to run. Te bear charges him and he closes his eyes and repeats "Just keep going." The bear gets forgiveness, which is representation of what should be received by Jean.

    Jennifer Lopez is not bad in this film at all. In fact, I almost argue that this is her best performance since Out Of Sight. My judgement of her performance was biased, however, having read half the book. I did not agree with the characterization Jennifer chose of Jean. Jennifer's Jean draws too much inspiration from Slim Hiller in Enough. Jennifer plays her to be too much of a victim at times. The book had Jean as a flirtatious sexual free spirit that smoked way too much. There is a small sex scene between her and Josh Lucas in the beginning of the film, which does not fit AT ALL. If Jennifer played Jean as a more sexual (even a little trashier, dare I say) with bigger flaws in her morale about sex, the scene would've made much more sense. I commend Jennifer for FINALLY playing a character with flaws, but I think she still could've dug a little deeper. In certain scenes you feel she walks through phoning in her lines, and in other scenes she shines and you almost want to hand her an Oscar. Many people gave her flack for looking way too glamorous to play this part. First of all, that's ridiculous and we all need to stop thinking actresses need to ugly themselves to deliver a good performance. Jean was supposed to be beautiful. Jean wore lots of make-up, so Jennifer did too. There is dialogue that even indicated this "I think every customer we had today just came to get a glimpse of you." Jennifer's greatest work in this film includes hardly any dialogue at all; the scene in which she watches a couple argue from behind the restaurant.

    The role of Jean Gilkyson dances on the line of being a lead character and a supporting character, which can easily be debated wither way. I'm going to go with supporting. Jean doesn't go through a strong enough transformation to be considered a lead. At times, you feel her presence is only necessary for the sake of Einar to move on and offer forgiveness. A transformation from beginning to end is present, just not strong enough.

    The love story between Jean and Crane is underdeveloped, as someone else on here stated.

    All in all, a good film. Incredibly slow-paced and dull at times, but well done. It deserves to be considered by the Oscars, but it doesn't deserve to win. As for the subject everyone's talking about; Jennifer Lopez and an Oscar. No, she doesn't deserve and Oscar for this film. Maybe possibly a nomination, but not Oscar-worthy. She's on her way though, and this film is definitely a step in the right direction.
  • Lasse Hallström has the gift to capture the aura of a place and time and allow that atmosphere to color the characters in his stories, making everything he does feel natural and possible. In this very fine film AN UNFINISHED LIFE the setting is the vastness of Wyoming, in a town where everyone knows everyone and remembers everything, but the townsfolk also hold a profound respect for privacy and personal pain.

    Einar Gilkyson (Robert Redford) is a man in his 60's whose son was killed in an automobile accident eleven years ago, an accident in which this son's wife Jean (Jennifer Lopez) was driving. Jean left the little town, pregnant with her daughter Griff (Becca Gardner), and has been living a life of guilt and remorse partially relieved by frequent lovers - the latest being the severely abusive Gary (Damian Lewis) whose beatings of Jean and Griff result in Jean's leaving him to go to Wyoming where she hopes Einar will allow her to board until she earns sufficient funds to move on. Einar lives on the same little farm with his long time friend and helper Mitch (Morgan Freeman) and Einar lives with the grief of the loss of his son and with the need to tend to the ailing Mitch who was mauled by a bear. Jean and Griff enter the town and convince the reluctant Einar to allow them temporary quarters: Jean finds work as a waitress at the local café run by Nina (Camryn Manheim) and meets the handsome sheriff Crane (Josh Lucas). Slowly these disparate people assimilate over mutual needs and the presence of Jean and the granddaughter Einar never knew he had mends old wounds and leads to adventures that bring their bizarre circle of life to resolution.

    Boasting a strong cast and fine script by Mark Spragg and Virginia Korus Spragg, Hallstrom keeps tight reigns on a drama that could have easily splintered into too many sidebars. He makes us work to understand the motivations of each of his characters, a fact that makes the story more involving. Redford, Freeman, and Lopez are excellent as are the lesser but fine roles by Gardner, Lucas, Manheim, and Lewis. Though shot in Canada the feeling of the Wyoming plains is palpable through the fine cinematography of Oliver Stapleton. This is a quiet film of brooding feelings and buried hurts, but the window for redemption is left ajar to open in the end. Grady Harp
  • ksr1729 September 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    Good cast, good plot, good score, good scenery, and most of all, good ending. One criticism I read was that it had a 'predictable ending.' If that means it didn't have a bad ending, then I'm all for predictable endings. The movie was very well done, and not over the top in any regard. Just thoroughly enjoyable. Worth the price of admission. (It would have been a hoot, though, if Ben Afleck played the old boyfriend.) There were a couple of aspects that reminded me of Redford's "Horse Whisperer," but that didn't detract from the movie. I hope it makes it to DVD. And I agree with another comment I read: why the Disney morons decided to give it only a limited release is beyond me. Perhaps really fine movies are not profitable?
  • jhoward-1819 September 2005
    Seldom do I come across a film that I want to buy so I can see it later and share it with family and friends. This is one! I'm moved by the quality of the acting and the story line. It tugs at my heart in many ways, but the sight and sound of the pain from loosing his son is hard to watch with dry eyes. I may have seen a better movie but it's been a very long time.

    Redford just gets better with time, even as hard as it is to improve on Butch Cassidy. Morgan Freeman is so gifted...words escape me.

    I think it's true that both of them play roles that have a high degree of themselves in them, but that's OK, I like them or who I perceive them to be.

    Lopez, if you can watch her on screen and forget about her personal life that she shamelessly sells and lives publicly, is a reasonably good actress. She did a good job of taking the viewer to her space and situation.

    Becca, great job, I'll bet she does well as an actress.

    Overall the movie was a great use of the afternoon and well worth the price of admission. I don't go to a lot of movies because most of the time I'm not willing to say that after the movies over.

    Thank you for a job well done!
  • I saw an advance screening of "An Unfinished Life" and was very impressed. I saw a trailer online and thought that it might be worth a good rental until I noticed in the paper that there was an advance screening. I had never been to one, so I decided to go.

    This film was outstanding! The scenes b/w Redford and Freeman are hysterical. Morgan Freeman plays the same type of supporting character we all loved in "Million Dollar Baby" (which I think was the best movie of the year so far), to this one. Robert Redford is perfect for his role and gets the job done as usual. Kudos to J-Lo for not screwing it up. She didn't do a bad job at all. I don't know who the little girl is, but she did a very good job too.

    I enjoyed this film just as much as "Million Dollar Baby", even though it wasn't as poetic, it is just as uplifting and entertaining. This is a very good movie with a very good cast. It is definitely worth a full admission price. "Million Dollar Baby" was the only movie that I have ever seen twice in the theaters and I'll probably go back for this one.
  • I was able to attend the sneak preview of An Unfinished Life Saturday night, in Muvico Paradise Theater, in Florida. For about nine years now, i have been what one would call an "Oscar predictor". I predict movies and their potential to compete in every year at the Oscars. Not saying that that's what I do for a living, but, I first started in the year of 1997, with movies of the likes of Titanic, L.A Confidential, Good Will Hunting, Armistead, just to name a few. The reason why i even started the hobby was so i could bond with my little brother, and so we could be able to share a common interest. As the years went by, I grew more attached, to what i call, the "job", and more attached to the idea of being able to share something in common with my brother. I had heard about An Unfinished Life since last year, and even put deep consideration into its chances for an Oscar. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed when Miramax pushed it to next year, along with Proof. I assumed it was a bad movie, shelved and forgotten, especially after a series of mixed reviews as of late. We went in, like I said before, not expecting a whole lot of the shelved film, and, were ready to be either surprised, or, the more likely, disappointed...

    actual review- Coming out of the theater, me and my brother were, in a word, surprised, and in all aspects of the film. We thought the film was actually pretty damn good, despite being sort of cliché, and sometimes predictable.

    The movie is a story about forgiveness, as it says in every single website that the film appears in. But, what many fail to understand is that the movie, in fact, is a story of letting go of the inner depth person one can be as a result of pain, anguish, bitterness, loss, hatred, depression, and, most noticeably, the horrible death and loneliness of sorrow. It is also a story of a sense of hope and redemption one is able to see in the little things in this world, and in the most unexpected and life-changing obstacles of life. An Unfinished Life exceeds in illustrating that beautifully and profoundly.

    The movie did, however, have it's difficulties and problems. Some scenes I felt could have been cut, like when Lopez and Lucas decide, after just meeting each other twice, to go off into some deserted area and have sex. Also, i felt that some scenes didn't work b/c they just edited a little too much, like the whole subplot with the abusive boyfriend. The audience just doesn't get that feel from Lewis' character because the character just shows up too little, or, he just isn't able to capture the true strength of someone feared and dreaded by all dueto screen time and the material provided during his screen time. Another problem was the relationship b/w Lucas and Lopez which is as well underdeveloped. At the end of the film, your still not quite sure if they are just friends, or friends who truly feel something towards each other, weather it be pity, or love, or intimacy, etc.. Another major problem was that some scenes just felt too quick compared to other scenes that seemed to long. For me the biggest problem of the film was the editing.

    Now, in my opinion, the best thing about the entire movie is the performances. We'll start of with Redford. He is absolutely magnificent. It is definitely a Redford we haven't seen in a while. He's performance gives a great mix of tragedy and despair, humor, and deeply touching grief and dwelling. Some scenes, like when Einer talks to his son, or when he tries to let go of the tragedy he considers is his life, or the scenes where he and Mitch, Freeman, remind us of their brilliant talent, are truly genuine, sincere, wonderful and truly special.

    One of the most pleasantly surprising elements of the movie is Jennifer Lopez. In this film, Lopez is really able to show us a side of herself that we haven't seen since, oh well "Out of Sight". Jennifer Lopez is believable in every aspect as a masochistic woman who is susceptible to mistakes, and tries her best to be a good mom, even when she fails to realize all the pain she makes her daughter go through, even if it's not intentionally. Some scenes like when she tells Lucas of her abusive boyfriend, seem to appear almost pitch perfect. And her big scene stealer is extremely impressive, expressing a great amount of fear and anguish and regret. That scene, and the role itself, is an incredible achievement, one of which she herself should be proud of.

    Freeman is absolutely wonderful in the film as well. Even though it's basically kind of the same role he always plays, he portrays his role with enough sadness, enough humor, and enough life to make you, once again, forget that it's Freeman. Scenes where he is finally able to achieve strength and courage over the bear that ruined his life, and his unfolding heart towards Griff, prove to be extremely effective. The young actress, who plays Griff, Becca Gardner, is also excellent in the film. Despite being surrounded by A list actors, the little 11 year old is able to hold her own ground, and make herself stand out. Also, the cinematography and score were beautiful.

    Despite its faults, the movie is able to express a kind of power very rare in movies now a day. It is able to express the agony of truth and acceptance, and the beautiful essence of hope, which is most of the time, the only thing a person has within themselves, and in life. An Unfinished Life is a terrific accomplishment, and I highly recommend it.
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