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An Unfinished Life

Genre: , ,

Cast: Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez, Morgan Freeman, Becca Gardner, Damian Lewis, Josh Lucas, Camryn Mannheim

Director: Lasse Hallstrom

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: April 11th, 2006
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Overall Grade: B

An Unfinished Life

Review By: Staff

Click here for the theatrical review of An Unfinished Life

Click Here for our interview with Jennifer Lopez

An Unfinished Life

Anytime you have an ensemble cast as diverse and accomplished as seen in An
Unfinished Life
, expectations for the film to do well amongst audiences is
usually high. It’s just too bad Jennifer Lopez has a bad rep as a serial dater
in the relationship department. Otherwise people might actually pay more
attention to her acting rather than her mating skills. Well, it turns out her character
(post Bennifer) shares the same tragically unsuccessful relationship card. As an
actress, it seemed like the role must have been pretty easy shoes to fill. However, to many viewers’ shock,
including my own, we find by the end that Jenny from the Block can act.

An Unfinished Life was surprisingly moving, thought-provoking and all around
impressive. Each character had a personal story, all of whom shared a common
struggle. Each person experienced a pain so tangible, as an audience member, you really felt like you were being taken on a journey with these people,
physically and emotionally.

Perhaps no one’s pain was more external than Einar’s (Robert Redford). Einar
had endured a parent’s worst nightmare; he had outlived his only son Griffin,
who was killed in a car accident. Jean (Jennifer Lopez), Griffin’s wife, was
driving the night of the accident, and only she survived. It wasn’t until after the death of her late husband that Jean realized she was pregnant.

Years go by and Jean finds herself in compulsively abusive relationships.
Bruised and battered, Jean finally gets the courage to walk out on her current
boyfriend. Jean and her now adolescent daughter, Griff (Becca Gardner),
secretly leave their home in hopes of finding a better life. With no luck and
nowhere else to turn, Jean was desperate and had no choice but to request the
help of her father-in-law.

When Jean and Griff arrive to Einar’s ranch in Wyoming, he wants nothing to do
with them. He unwillingly lets them stay until they can move elsewhere. To
make ends meet Jean eventually finds a job as a waitress at a local diner.

It was clear Einar was still mourning his late son after all these years. His
sadness was so overpowering he felt nothing but contempt for his daughter-in-law. Ever since his son passed, Einar had blamed Jean for his
death. Einar’s deep-seeded resentment for Jean, was so intense that he didn’t even
want anything to do with his granddaughter.

While on the ranch Griff got to know Mitch (Morgan Freeman), a sweet, caring
individual and one of Einar’s oldest and best friends. One-year prior, Mitch had been violently attacked by a grizzly bear leaving parts of his body mangled and every day Einar

would go out of his way to tend to Mitch before heading
into town.

Even though Mitch was constantly reminded of the physical scars on his body,
he finally found it within himself to conquer his fear of the grizzly bear that had left his body ailing. It took seeing Einar’s resentment toward Jean for Mitch to want to overcome his fear and be an example to his friend. By
forgiving the bear, Mitch was able to let go of the internal scars that had pained him on the inside. Mitch felt it was time for Einar to also let go of the past and forgive Jean for the car accident.

An Unfinished Life was a story of incredible life consequences: hurt, pain,
resentment and struggle. It was a film about facing life’s harsh realities. The day Einar’s son died was the day Einar stopped living. Einar had been so consumed by his son’s “unfinished life” that in order to come to terms with the reality of his son’s death, Einar had to learn to let go of the past, forgive
Jean and find compassion for others again.

Movie Grade: B

DVD Grade: B

Overall Grade: B

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