An Unfinished Life Reviews
"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.
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.
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."
Most of the time, the success and overall rating of Hallstrom's movies comes down to its source material. Much of the success of "The Cider House Rules" is credited to the book and screenplay by John Irving, and rightly so. But Hallstrom deserve a lot of credit as well, by perfectly taking the source material from page to screen and deliver a great movie. With "An Unfinished Life", Hallstrom has done it again. Based on a popular book, Hallstrom takes this story from page to screen and deliver a movie with his own touch and clean execution. There was some debate during the production where the author of the book, Mark Spragg, withdrew his support because of too many changes in the script compared to the book. The basic story itself though, is largely intact. The loss of success of this movie though, comes down to the fact that Mark Spragg is no John Irving. John Irving is a contemporary giant in American litterature. His books will still be read 100 years from now. Mark Spragg, I am doubtful. By that, you also get to the weakness of Hallstrom. He can not elevate a movie very much beyond its source material, like some other (few) great directors can. He takes the source material as is, and makes a clean translation. Never better, never worse.