An Unfinished Life reminded me of films like The Shipping News and to a lesser extent, Secondhand Lions.
Jean, played by Jennifer Lopez, with her daughter Griff, escape from an abusive relationship to seek shelter in rural Wyoming with the grandfather Griff never knew she had. The crusty grandfather Einar, played brilliantly by Robert Redford, is less than welcoming, and only slowly do we discover why he is so cold to the newcomers. Mitch, played by Morgan Freeman, ranch hand and long time friend, lives in a cabin next to the ranch house. He is maimed and cared for by Einar.
The pithy dialog between the men is delivered with the mastery of two acting greats, and adds both humor and pathos to the film. The relationship between Einar and his granddaughter will remind older generations of the classic film Heidi, though this is a grittier version. Young actress Becca Gardner plays her part well as does Jennifer Lopez. Women in the audience will enjoy Josh Lucas as the town's sheriff. Damian Lewis convincingly performs his supporting role as an abusive boyfriend.
An Unfinished Life is a film with multigenerational appeal. It is a drama about starting over, building new lives, healing wounds, and finding the strength to forgive past wrongs. The story feels real, the setting is breathtaking, and through it all walks a very large bear. This is a truly wonderful film that held the audience at the sneak preview in thrall. - by Karen Samdahl
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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