Unfinished Life

Unfinished Life

4.9 10
Director: Lasse Hallström

Cast: Lasse Hallström, Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez, Morgan Freeman

     
 

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Two generations of a damaged family are brought together in this emotional drama. Einar Gilkyson (Robert Redford) was a once successful rancher whose spread went to seed after he developed a serious drinking problem. Now on the wagon, Einar looks after what's left of his spread with his friend Mitch (Morgan Freeman), a one-time cowhand who never fully recovered after… See more details below

Overview

Two generations of a damaged family are brought together in this emotional drama. Einar Gilkyson (Robert Redford) was a once successful rancher whose spread went to seed after he developed a serious drinking problem. Now on the wagon, Einar looks after what's left of his spread with his friend Mitch (Morgan Freeman), a one-time cowhand who never fully recovered after being mauled by a bear. Einar once had a son named Griffin, but he died in a car wreck while Griffin's wife, Jean (Jennifer Lopez), was driving; Einar never forgave her for the death, and he had never met the granddaughter she was carrying until she arrived at his doorstep 11 years later. Jean has become involved with a violent man named Gary (Damian Lewis), and seeks refuge on Einar's ranch for the safety of her daughter, Griff (Becca Gardner). Einar reluctantly takes in Jean and Griff, giving them a place to stay as Jean looks for work and tries to put her life back together. But old trouble makes its way back to town in two ways -- Gary tracks down Jean and wants to make her pay for leaving him, while the bear who attacked Mitch comes down from the mountains looking for new prey. An Unfinished Life was adapted from the novel of the same name by Mark Spragg.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Based on a novel by Mark Spragg, this modest, unassuming little drama with a striking A-list cast slipped into theatrical release last year almost entirely unheralded, wowing neither critics nor moviegoers. Yet, An Unfinished Life’s merits were not lost on those who took a chance and discovered this well-made story of redemption and forgiveness. Robert Redford stars as a reclusive Wyoming rancher who ignores his spread and tends to his solitary employee (Morgan Freeman), who is crippled and in constant pain after being mauled by a bear that still roams the countryside. Both men are surprised by the unexpected arrival of the rancher’s daughter-in-law (Jennifer Lopez), whom the old man blames for the accidental death of his son a decade earlier. Upon learning that she and his granddaughter are trying to escape her abusive boyfriend, the rancher reluctantly offers them shelter -- and a long, slow healing process begins. Director Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules), an expert in the depiction of dysfunctional families, wisely allows his actors to define their characters with subtlety. Redford at times comes perilously close to turning his grizzled, bitter, taciturn old-timer into a caricature, but he always manages to pull back just in time. Freeman’s feisty sidekick is cut from familiar cloth, but that fine actor invests him with dignity and resolve. No less effective is Lopez, whose well-modulated performance belies her current reputation as a media-manufactured diva of limited ability. She’s capable of fine work, and that’s readily apparent here. Also worth mentioning is young newcomer Becca Gardner, who plays Lopez’s daughter beautifully and more than holds her own in scenes with old pro Redford.
All Movie Guide
With a powerhouse cast that should have spoken to multiple demographics -- Jennifer Lopez for the hip-hop generation, Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman for their parents -- you'd think that someone would have seen An Unfinished Life. The pedigree of director Lasse Hallström should have only helped. Yet An Unfinished Life had an unfinished box office, amassing a paltry 8.5 million dollars in domestic receipts. Granted, it isn't anything we haven't seen before. An unconventional family unit -- related by blood, by marriage, and by friendship -- nurses both physical and emotional wounds in the pastoral setting of a Wyoming ranch, and there are heavy social issues aplenty, ranging from the topical (domestic abuse and alcoholism) to the timeless (guilt, blame, alienation, neglect). Yet there's something about this film that's greater than the limitations of a quick synopsis, and it's likely attributable to the names listed above. Redford and Freeman are memorable as two fiftysomethings with vastly different approaches to the person or thing that caused them pain. While Redford pathologically refuses to forgive his daughter-in-law (Lopez) for a tragic car accident more than a decade earlier, Freeman maintains an uncommonly humane outlook on the bear that mauled him, even with those physical wounds still healing. Lopez does credible work trying to remain stoical in the face of her guilt, and child actor Becca Gardner is a true find as the youngest in this emotionally broken clan. If there's any complaint about Mark and Virginia Spragg's script, based on Mark Spragg's book, it's that it focuses too intensely on pain as one of life's constants; even a secondary character, played by Camryn Manheim, is coping with the loss of a child. Yet for those in the audience who find themselves in similarly painful circumstances, this contemplative work should provide them perspective, enrichment, and comfort.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/15/2011
UPC:
0031398135258
Original Release:
2005
Source:
Miramax Lionsgate
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:48:00
Sales rank:
3,546

Special Features

Feature commentary with director, producer and editor ; The making of An Unfinised Life ; Training Bart the Bear ; Still gallery

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Redford Elinar Gilkyson
Jennifer Lopez Jean Gilkyson
Morgan Freeman Mitch Bradley
Becca Gardner Griff Gilkyson
Damian Lewis Gary Winston
Camryn Manheim Nina
Lynda Boyd Kitty
Rob Hayter Deputy
P. Lynn Johnson Shelter Supervisor
Josh Lucas Crane
Trevor Moss Griffin Gilkyson
R. Nelson Brown Kent
Dillard Brinson Gnome Owner
Jason Diablo Customer
Sean Dory Customer
Bryan Korenberg Angry Couple Man
Danielle Dunn-Morris Angie
Sandra Polson Secretary
Dale Kipling Cook
Jill Teed Bartender
Jayne Dancose Nurse Phyllis
Ken Camroux Doctor
Bart the Bear The Bear
Joey Newman Conductor

Technical Credits
Lasse Hallström Director
Su Armstrong Co-producer
Kerry Barden Casting
Heike Brandstatter Casting
George Chapman Production Manager
Jayne Dancose Makeup
Dennis Davenport Set Decoration/Design
Stephen P. Dunn Associate Producer
Ron Goodman Cinematographer
David Gropman Production Designer
Leslie Holleran Producer
Billy Hopkins Casting
Graham King Executive Producer
Michael Kirchberger Sound/Sound Designer
Kelliann Ladd Producer
Alan Ladd Producer
Deborah Lurie Score Composer
Coreen Mayrs Casting
Tish Monaghan Costumes/Costume Designer
Andrew Mondshein Editor
Matthew Mungle Makeup Special Effects
Meryl Poster Executive Producer
Michelle Raimo Executive Producer
Matthew Rhodes Executive Producer
Marq Roswell Musical Direction/Supervision
Joe Roth Executive Producer
Mark Rydell Executive Producer
Karen Schulz-Gropman Art Director
Suzanne Smith Casting
Mark Spragg Screenwriter
Virginia Korus Spragg Screenwriter
Oliver Stapleton Cinematographer
James Steuart Art Director
Bob Weinstein Executive Producer
Harvey Weinstein Executive Producer
Rudy Zasloff Sound/Sound Designer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- An Unfinished Life
1. "We're Goin to Wyoming
2. A Place to Stay
3. Caretaking
4. Breakfast in Town
5. "That Was My Bear"
6. Working Folk
7. Accidents
8. Getting Along
9. Interesting Company
10. The Errand
11. "I Killed Griffin"
12. "I Want to See the Bear!"
13. Mitch's Emergency
14. "She's a Good Girl"
15. Freeing the Bear
16. Letting Go
17. The Last of Gary
18. Conclusion and Credits

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