"AN UNFINISHED LIFE"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
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
Camryn Manheim as NINA
Becca Gardner as GRIFF GILKYSON
Directed by: Lasse Hallström
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In a way, my feelings on the film “An Unfinished Life” very much resemble my feelings on the film “Brokeback Mountain.” It’s not just that these films are plodding modern westerns set in Wyoming. It’s not even their subject matter at all. Instead, it’s because they’re both really, really, really, really boring.
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I didn’t care about the characters in “Brokeback Mountain,” not because they were gay, but because they were excruciatingly boring people. The same goes for the characters in “An Unfinished Life.” It doesn’t matter that you have a master thespian like Morgan Freeman. He can’t carry the whole cast and story that doesn’t really exist.
“An Unfinished Life” tells the story of a weak-willed woman (Jennifer Lopez) who, in a moment of rare clarity (mostly brought on by her daughter telling her to grow a pair), decided to leave her abusive boyfriend and find a better life elsewhere. The only place she knows to go is to the father of her deceased husband. The only problem is that the old coot (played by Robert Redford) blames her for the death of his son.
Reluctantly, he lets the woman and her daughter stay with him. Over the next few weeks as she gets a job and he nurses his farmhand (Morgan Freeman) who had been mauled by a grizzly bear, the family starts to bond. Things are looking up, until the boyfriend blows into town looking for his woman.
Beautiful scenery aside, “An Unfinished Life” is your run-of-the-mill kitchen sink drama of a woman trying to recover from an abusive relationship. It’s also a story of the grandfather finding that he can love again. If you’re into that kind of thing, you might like this film. I’m not, and frankly, it bored me.
The film is filled with metaphors and symbolism. The bear that mauled Morgan Freeman crops up throughout, is eventually captured by an animal exhibit in town, and becomes the focus of a prison break near the end of the film. Of course, we have the obligatory chance for Freeman’s character to confront the bear in the wild. I’m sure all of this has a deeper, more significant meaning, but I was so bored with the film that I didn’t have the energy to search for it.
The DVD comes with several special features, including commentary by Lasse Hallström along with his producer and editor. There’s also a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of the film, but it’s such a shameless self-congratulatory piece.
There’s a great deal of focus on the bear in the behind-the-scenes information. To be honest, if the movie was actually about the bear and not the weak-willed character of Jean and the wallow-in-self-pity jerk of a father-in-law, I might have taken more interest in it. If only the bulk of the film focused on the grizzly and not the deplorable people.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (2.40:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French language track. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.