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An Unfinished Life (2005)



Average Rating: 5.9/10
Reviews Counted: 140
Fresh: 74 | Rotten: 66

A story of disjointed family members yearning for true emotional depth, An Unfinished Life teeters between overtly saccharine sentiments and moments of real intimacy.


Average Rating: 5.2/10
Critic Reviews: 37
Fresh: 14 | Rotten: 23

A story of disjointed family members yearning for true emotional depth, An Unfinished Life teeters between overtly saccharine sentiments and moments of real intimacy.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 60,484

My Rating

Movie Info

Two generations of a damaged family are brought together in this emotional drama. Einar Gilkyson (Robert Redford) was a once successful rancher whose spread went to seed after he developed a serious drinking problem. Now on the wagon, Einar looks after what's left of his spread with his friend Mitch (Morgan Freeman), a one-time cowhand who never fully recovered after being mauled by a bear. Einar once had a son named Griffin, but he died in a car wreck while Griffin's wife, Jean (Jennifer



Mark Spragg

Apr 11, 2006


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Latest News on An Unfinished Life

January 12, 2006:
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August 1, 2005:
Trailer Bulletin: An Unfinished Life
Finally earning a (limited) release after sitting on a Miramax shelf for about a year is Lasse...


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All Critics (142) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (74) | Rotten (66) | DVD (16)

Call it "the Sundance effect," in which sentimental family drama blossoms amid a scenic, pastoral American landscape, with all its connotations of unspoiled purity and rejuvenation.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hallström ropes an all-star cast into what's essentially a glossed-up TV movie.

September 26, 2005 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The picture has no discernible reason for being. It's impossible to identify with characters who seem so fond of their own misery, they can't be bothered to communicate even the most basic facts about themselves.

September 24, 2005 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

By the conclusion, the movie turns into the ursine answer to Free Willy, veering dangerously close to New Age parody.

September 23, 2005 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Manages to be both moving and poignant largely because of the superb acting, cinematography and direction.

September 12, 2005 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The picture is outrageously predictable and somewhat poky, but there's also something admirably bold about the way it so adamantly demands we swallow its hokum.

September 9, 2005 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sure, it's a glorified Hallmark movie with a great cast, but in spite of it all, An Unfinished Life struck a chord with me.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

A modern-day Western from Lasse Hallstrom which doesn't measure up to the best of the three-time Oscar-nominee's work, but is, nonetheless, a beautifully filmed panoramic production with a plot compelling enough to recommend.

July 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Princeton Town Topics
Princeton Town Topics

It's any director's job to tell the actors how to feel, but never a good idea to ask the same of the audience.

May 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Long Island Press
Long Island Press

There's a touching subplot about Redford's relationship with Morgan Freeman's crippled ranch-hand, and some nonsense about the capture and liberation of an enigmatic bear.

January 20, 2007 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

An Unfinished Life takes us on the journey from the stifling prison of resentment to the freedom and healing of reconciliation. It's a trip worth taking.

November 10, 2006
Christianity Today

There's something strangely poignant about watching Robert Redford trying to be Clint Eastwood.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Guardian

An Unfinished Life isn't going to win any prizes for originality, yet despite the derivative feel - and some hokey melodrama - it's still a solidly entertaining film.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

A wistful smalltown drama, this is predictable and pleasant, with enjoyable performances. It suffers from heavy-handed symbolism, but as an undemanding mainstream movie it has its simple pleasures.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

If the story seems overly familiar, it's because it's basically Heidi. Okay, so a couple of extra characters have been added and there's a great big bear instead of all that business with the wheelchair, but [it's] essentially the same.

June 17, 2006 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Un drama familiar previsible, inofensivo y hermosamente fotografiado, con buen elenco y poco más a destacar.

June 5, 2006 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Director Lasse Hallström and the cast (including Morgan Freeman as Redford's hired hand and Josh Lucas as the local sheriff) respond with great work-in Redford's and Lopez's cases, their best ever.

May 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

This is a phenomenal character study of the grief of a father and the guilt of a friend. If you find it's unfolding too slowly for you, just focus on the wonderful performances by Redford and Freeman, and they'll pull you through.

May 12, 2006 Full Review Source:

If only the bulk of the film focused on the grizzly and not the deplorable people.

April 30, 2006 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures old-fashioned tearjerker, to be sure, yet parts of it undeniably work.

April 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

O roteiro sempre se sai melhor quando observa incidentes que, apesar de nada "cinematográficos", são suficientemente impactantes para seus personagens.

March 17, 2006
Cinema em Cena

The sort of 'safe' drama that seems tailor-made for an endless run on the so-called 'arty' circuit ...

February 7, 2006
SA Movie & DVD Magazine

Everyone knows where the plot and its relationships are going, but we need a few warm and soft-focussed films. This is not a great film, but it is a nice one with several touching moments.

January 13, 2006 Full Review

Things work themselves out in a quiet, logical, satisfying way.

December 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Familiar territory, but subtly and effectively covered.

November 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

Audience Reviews for An Unfinished Life

Mitch Bradley: I know people everywhere that thought they got dealt a bad hand. 

"Every secret takes on a life of its own."

An Unfinished Life isn't the most original thing you'll ever see, but it does do a lot of things well. It's well acted, especially by  screen legends Morgan Freeman and Robert Redford. The Wyoming scenery is beautifully shot and the cinematography is amazing. So those are the things I really loved about the film. For the things I didn't now. Jennifer Lopez is miss cast if you ask me. She doesn't fit the role and is a mediocre, if sexy, actress at best. The other thing I didn't really care for is how the story took the easy way out to man times. There seemed to be some really interesting directions the film could have gone, but they were skipped every time for a more predictable option.

Overall I still enjoyed the film as a whole. There were some truly beautiful moments and some occasionally funny ones. This isn't a movie that is overly important, nor will it ever be a classic; but what it is, is a solid piece of filmmaking. Could it have been better? Sure, but as it is; it isn't too bad. 
May 8, 2012
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

A good drama that indicates the significance of forgiveness, and how it can be tough than vengeance sometimes.

Einar (Robert Redford) is the father-in-law of Jean (Jennifer Lopez) whose husband dies in a car accident while she was driving. She leaves her husband's house soon after the incident, but returns years later with her daughter when she needs a hiding place. Einar finds it difficult to forgive her, but he's fond of his grand-daughter. The movie displays how each character deal with their pain. Einar's friend Mitch's (Morgan Freeman) parallel track, also emphasizing the power of forgiveness, is equally good.

While it's a bit slow, it's not boring. The humor at regular intervals also makes it lively. Morgan Freeman gives an incredible performance as usual, while Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez also live their character amazingly and give a natural performance. The girl playing Jean's daughter is also terrific.

Check it out if you wanna see a good family drama displaying the aspects of healing, redemption and forgiveness; and if you've patience.
January 20, 2011

Super Reviewer

Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford, Becca Gardner, Damian Lewis, Morgan Freeman, Josh Lucas, Camryn Manheim

Director:Lasse Hallström

Summary: When her husband dies, grieving widow Jean Gilkyson (Jennifer Lopez) moves herself and her daughter, Griff (Becca Gardner), into the Wyoming home of her estranged father-in-law, steely rancher Einar (Robert Redford), even though they don't get along. Einar can't get over the death of his only son, while Jean struggles to make sense of her new life.

My Thoughts: "Just a good little film. Had a good cast, some with better acting then others. It's a movie about acceptance and forgiveness. Becca Gardner was the highlight of the film. She really did a great job. Enjoyed watching Freeman and Redford together on screen, thought they were great together in this. Simple film, nothing to special. But worth a look at."
July 31, 2010

Super Reviewer

Every secret takes on a life of its own!
December 15, 2009
Wahida K

Super Reviewer

Movies Like An Unfinished Life

    1. Mitch Bradley: Would you bury me next to Griffin?
    2. Elinar Gilkyson: Don't you think you ought to die first?
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Jean Gilkyson: You stay because you don't think you deserve any better, because you think it's the best you can do.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Mitch Bradley: You want to know what I dreamed last night?
    2. Elinar Gilkyson: What?
    3. Mitch Bradley: I dreamed you weren't such a miserable son of a bitch.
    4. Elinar Gilkyson: That's not dreaming, it's wishful thinking.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Griff Gilkyson: Don't bears like honey? Winnie the Pooh does.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Mitch Bradley: I was dreamin' about the sea last night.
    2. Elinar Gilkyson: Didja get wet?
    3. Mitch Bradley: Walked right in. It felt like falling in love. Smelled like a woman. Tasted like one too.
    4. Elinar Gilkyson: Yer memory's not that good.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Gary Winston: God, Jean I don't know what happened. But I feel like a redness or something comes over me and I feel like you've backed me up in a corner and do that and I hate it when I'm like that. I'm sorry.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
View all quotes (6)

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