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An Unfinished Life

Drama movie directed by Lasse Hallström

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An Unfinished Life - 2005

  • Oct 18, 2008
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, Griff. Einar firmly believes that Jean is responsible for his son's death. In part this is true, she was driving the car and she did fall asleep, causing the accident that took his son's life. However, it was totally accidental; something he can't come to grips with.

At the same time Einar, who seems removed from everyone, is taking care of a friend, Mitch, who was injured in an attack by a bear. Mitch is wise beyond his years and imparts that wisdom on an unwilling Einar. Mitch, by this point, is feeling sorry for the bear and begs Einar to keep a watch on the safety of the bear. It is rather comical this bear-talk interaction between Mitch and Einar.

In the middle of it all is Griff. She has lost her father, her mother has issues of her own, Einar wants nothing to do with her, and on top of everything else she is dumped into the middle of nowhere with no friends. Could really aggravate a young girl.

What the story must resolve it the relationship between all parties, including the dang bear, and bring peace to the individuals involved.

Some of the greatest scenes in the movie involve two completely different story lines. One is the saga of the bear, especially once it arrives sauntering through town. The other is the abject misery we watch on Einar's face as he sits beside his son's grave, letting all his grief show. Redford gave an outstanding performance on this level that I greatly admired. The bear was cool also. Other scenes between Mitch and Einar are touching as he tends Mitch's broken body, and meetings between Griff and Mitch.

An Unfinished Life stars Robert Redford as Einar Gilkyson. He is every bit the staid old rancher he is trying to portray in the movie. Old Bob is starting to age up quite a bit but you can still see the remnants of that charm that won us all over earlier in his career. Joining him was Jennifer Lopez as Jean Gilkyson. I've never been a Lopez fan as far as her acting goes and this didn't endear me either. I enjoyed Mitch much better, played by Morgan Freeman, than I did Lopez.

There are some beautiful shots in the movie with some great scenery. Filming was clean and clear. It was directed by Lasse Hallstrom; writers Mark Spragg & Virginia Korus Spragg. It won two awards: Canadian Network of Markup Artists and the Genesis for Feature Film. It carries a PG-13 rating for violence and language.


This movie is my submission to the Good Movies Write-Off 2, hosted by captaind


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February 05, 2012
Hi, Susi
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 . 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 . December 02, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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 …
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Susi Dawson ()
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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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