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An Unfinished Life

Drama movie directed by Lasse Hallström

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Being Able to Move On

  • Dec 2, 2006
Like many films Robert Redford has been associated with ('Ordinary People' 'The Horse Whisperer), the characters are hurt and are in need of healing. Mostly they need to stop grieving, forgive someone, and just accept the contingencies of life. Instead of being the director, Redford plays Einar Gilkyson, an aging ranch man with horses living in North Central Montana, close to Glacier Park. He shares his ranch house with his friend, Mitch Bradley (Morgan Freeman) who has been debilitated by a grizzly bear attack. Einar also tends to his horses, but his tight-lipped personality is interrupted by some of his cantankerous tirades. He is bitter over the loss of his son who died in an automobile accident with his daughter-in-law, Jean Gilkyson (Jennifer Lopez) at the wheel. His daily visits to his son's plot don't seem to ease the grief or bitterness, and in only becomes exacerbated when she turns up at his doorstep after leaving her abusive boyfriend to stay with him. Giving him no notice and turning up with an unknown granddaughter doesn't exactly work as an ice breaker.

The development shows how everyone must cope. She must get over her survival guilt that festers in her father-in-law's eyes while recovering from the wounds of domestic violence. Mitch tries to face his fears and anguish with the bear, and the girl must come to terms with a juggled family. Sensitive and soul-bearing, 'An Unfinished Life' is a drama that matters about life and how to accept it with accepting terms no matter what it may hand out.

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More An Unfinished Life reviews
review by . February 04, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
      AN UNFINISHED LIFE      Have you ever watched something and thought man that was a great movie, but once it sinks in you realize while it was good it came short of classic status. This movie is one of those unfortunately because it is actually a really good movie. Some people may have noticed I have giving lesser films a 5 star rating, I assure you I had reasons for doing so. I do not rate things side by side, I rate things based on my level of enjoyment …
Quick Tip by . February 04, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
This film ranks pretty high for me, I recommend seeing this to any and every body. Rent it first to see if it is for you, but if you like it I think it is worth owning. Give it a chance and see how you feel, even if you do not like it I don't think you will say it is not worth seeing.
review by . October 18, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: ...     Cons: ...     The Bottom Line:   "I am unfinished  An unfinished life"  ~Joséphine/Craig Wilson           After the death of her husband, and embroiled in an abusive relationship, Jean Gilkyson makes a surprising move to the home of her ex-father-in-law, Einar. He lives in a remote area of Wyoming and is completely estranged from Jean and his granddaughter, …
review by . January 02, 2009
"An Unfinished Life" is the inscription on 21-year old Griffin's tombstone. He died in a car accident and the driver was his pregnant wife Jean (Jennifer Lopez). Ten years later, Jean is trying to raise their daughter but is being abused by her boyfriend, Gary. She runs to her father-in-law (Robert Redford), a bitter old cowboy who lives on a ranch in Montana where he cares for his only friend (Morgan Freeman). He has never forgiven Jean for his son's death, but grudgingly lets them stay with him. …
review by . September 17, 2006
Pros: Acting was good     Cons: Too, too predictable...     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. I wonder if Morgan Freeman ever tires of playing the wise old Black sidekick; judging from his vast body of work I suppose the answer is no. Or could it be that those are the only roles he is offered. Whatever the reason, he is back in that now very clique role again in An Unfinished Life, also starting Robert Redford as an old …
review by . April 12, 2006
Lasse Hallstr?m 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 …
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #99
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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About this movie


Much like the late Rodney Dangerfield, some films just can't get any respect. Shelved by Miramax for two years,An Unfinished Lifewas released with little fanfare between Morgan Freeman's Oscar win and Lasse Hallström's higher-profileCasanova. Despite critical praise from some quarters, the heartland drama got lost amidst the shuffle. The title comes from the epitaph of Griffin, late son of Wyoming rancher Einar (a rumpled Robert Redford). Between chores, he looks after ranch hand Mitch (Freeman), who was mauled by a bear the year before. One day, daughter-in-law Jean (Jennifer Lopez) and granddaughter Griff (Becca Gardner) drop by the ranch unexpectedly. They're on the run from Jean's abusive boyfriend, Gary (Damian Lewis), back in Iowa. "I don't want you here," Einar states flatly--he blames her for Griffin's death 12 years ago--but the look on the kid's face convinces him to relent. While Jean works as a waitress in town and embarks on a tentative relationship with Sheriff Crane (Josh Lucas), his newfound granddaughter helps to take care of Mitch. Just as the four are starting to form a loose-knit family, Gary comes looking for Jean and upsets the delicate balance. It may pack fewer surprises than the superiorWhat's Eating Gilbert Grapeand the bear symbolism may be a mite heavy-handed, but the deeply unfashionableAn Unfinished Lifedeserves a second chance to find an audience.--Kathleen C. Fennessy
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