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An Unfinished Life

Drama movie directed by Lasse Hallström

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  • Feb 4, 2012


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 when viewing it. Like a movie called "Vengeance of the Dead", that film is by no means a classic film. But when I watched it with out expectations and knowing it was a low budget film from Full Moon it was an ok movie. When I watched it again with what turned out to be a very enjoyable director's commentary it added a lot more to the film, there for with both viewings it rounded up to a 5. Like I said I do not rate things side by side if I did do it that way this film would certainly rate higher then the previous movie I mentioned above.

Now with that out of the way I can get to this movie, it is with out doubt a very good movie. Writers Virginia Korus Spragg and Mark Spragg have crafted a well paced, entertaining, and at times moving film that never seems to be the preachy type. The story is of a woman named Jean Gilkyson [Lopez] who is trying to escape not only her abusive boyfriend but her life as well. Traveling along side her is her daughter Griff Gilkyson [Becca Gardner] and they make their way to Jean's ex father in law Einar Gilkyson [Robert Redford] who still blames her for his son's death. Tensions run high while they are there but along with Mitch Bradley [Morgan Freeman] Einar starts to come around as he spends time with his newly found granddaughter. Of course that is not all that happens in this movie, but the relationship between Grand father and granddaughter is the heart of this story. Director Lasse Hallström did an excellent job with this film as did director of photography Oliver Stapleton who shot this beautifully. The scenery in this film is amazing, and the look of this movie is great as well. All those who worked on this movie behind the camera deserve a lot of credit.

Of course the people in front of the camera make it come to life, and all of them do a great job with this film. Robert Redford of course is great as the grieving father who blames the girl for his son's loss. He is with out a doubt one of the funnier characters in the film. Of course his best friend in the film Morgan Freeman is excellent , did you think other wise? Freeman in particular is great as the friend who was mauled by a bear and now is disfigured and unable to move or walk with out help. He is one of the funnier characters when argues with Redford's character yet is also one of the saddest in the film. Josh Lucas who plays the town sheriff portrays his character well and is very believable in his role, as is Becca Gardner who plays the granddaughter. She in particular does a marvelous job on this film, and that is a compliment since most child actors usually are not that great. I have never really been a huge fan of this Jennifer Lopez, especially when it comes to her music. But with that aside she actually did an excellent job on this film, I have not been this impressed with her since "Selena".

Of course I did say that this film did not reach classic status in my mind, here is why. This film is pretty predictable, I am sure other people have mentioned this but you can guess what is coming for the rest of the movie after the 20 minute mark. And while that will not kill the mood of the film it will draw down the surprise of certain situations. Another problem you will have to deal with is the character development, it goes by to fast. Don't get me wrong these are definitely strong well rounded characters but I wish they had more time to develop with each other. The relationships seem to form out of no where, this film could have been great if it had a little more time added to it in my mind.

But with scenes that involve the bear and the boy friend taking place this film still ranks pretty high, 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.


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February 05, 2012
Hm. Nice review. I will probably check this out on HBO one day.
February 06, 2012
It is a good flick
More An Unfinished Life reviews
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 . 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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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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