An Unfinished Life (2005)



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

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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 Lopez), was driving; Einar never forgave her for the death, and he had never met the granddaughter she was carrying until she arrived at his doorstep 11 years later. Jean has become involved with a violent man named Gary (Damian Lewis), and seeks refuge on Einar's ranch for the safety of her daughter, Griff (Becca Gardner). Einar reluctantly takes in Jean and Griff, giving them a place to stay as Jean looks for work and tries to put her life back together. But old trouble makes its way back to town in two ways -- Gary tracks down Jean and wants to make her pay for leaving him, while the bear who attacked Mitch comes down from the mountains looking for new prey. An Unfinished Life was adapted from the novel of the same name by Mark Spragg. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
PG-13 (for some violence including domestic abuse, and language)
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Robert Redford
as Einar Gilkyson
Jennifer Lopez
as Jean Gilkyson
Morgan Freeman
as Mitch Bradley
Josh Lucas
as Sheriff Crane Curtis
Damian Lewis
as Gary Watson
Becca Gardner
as Griff Gilkyson
Lynda Boyd
as Kitty
R. Nelson Brown
as Rancher Kent
Sean J. Dory
as Drunk Cowboy
Rob Hayter
as Deputy Bob
P. Lynn Johnson
as Shelter Supervisor
Trevor Moss
as Griffin Gilkyson
Dillard Brinson
as Gnome Owner
Jason Diablo
as Customer
Sean Dory
as Customer
Bryan Korenberg
as Angry Couple Man
Sandra Polson
as Secretary
Jill Teed
as Bartender
Jayne Dancose
as Nurse Phyllis
Ken Camroux
as Doctor
Bart the Bear
as The Bear
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Critic Reviews for An Unfinished Life

All Critics (140) | Top Critics (37)

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.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

September 25, 2005
AV Club
Top 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.

Full Review… | September 23, 2005
Toronto Star
Top Critic

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

September 23, 2005
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | September 11, 2005
Top 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.

Full Review… | September 9, 2005
Top Critic

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. 

Melvin White
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.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

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."


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