Box art for An Unfinished Life

An Unfinished Life


From the acclaimed director of CASANOVA, CHOCOLAT, and THE CIDER HOUSE RULES ... Academy Award® winners Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman star in this powerful story of risk and redemption.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 13
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Sentimental drama; not likely to interest kids.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this drama concerns stressful relations among a young widowed mother, her angry father-in-law, and her 11-year-old daughter: this means that the film includes frequent scenes of family tension. This strain begins with an accidental death of the girl's father, not shown on screen but repeatedly discussed. That said, these scenes are not explosive, but taut and delicately handled. Characters argue, curse, smoke, and drink briefly. One male character abuses his girlfriend, in images that are occasionally abrupt and disturbing, and he is eventually beaten for his transgressions. A character bears scars from a bear attack (and discusses their appearance with the 12-year-old girl), and later in the film, a bear attacks the grandfather, frightening the granddaughter, who reacts and saves him.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the theme of forgiveness. The characters are split between those who feel guilty, angry, and unforgiving (Jean and Einar, her father-in-law), and those more open to forgiveness (the girl, Griff and Mitch, the bear's victim): how do all the characters come to appreciate the difficulties endured by the others, and so begin to understand their responses? How does the bear figure as a metaphor for "accidents" and for forgiveness? How might Einar or Jean have found other ways to express their grief and sense of guilt?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: A wistful smalltown drama, this is predictable and pleasant, with enjoyable performances. It suffers from heavy-handed symbolism, but as an undemanding mainstream movie it has its simple pleasures.

- Anna Smith, Empire Magazine, Friday, April 16, 2010

Fresh: An Unfinished Life takes us on the journey from the stifling prison of resentment to the freedom and healing of reconciliation. It's a trip worth taking.

- Carolyn Arends, Christianity Today, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: An Unfinished Life isn't going to win any prizes for originality, yet despite the derivative feel - and some hokey melodrama - it's still a solidly entertaining film.

- David Edwards, Daily Mirror [UK], Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

4 stars

An Unfinished Life treads ground far from unknown, and is by no means unpredictable. However, it is still a wonderful and heartfelt film. This film features a performance by Robert Redford that is probably one of his best, quite simply because he plays a character I've never seen him play before: a grizzled, haggard old man who is bitter and anger, but who does eventually change his ways. His performance, along with all of the others (yes, even Jennifer Lopez's, a role that is also one of the best of her career) are superb, as is the always unique direction by Hallstroem and the great cinematography. This film, as stated earlier, provides no new insight, but is entertaining and enthralling nonetheless, and sometimes, that is all that is needed.

- cosmo313, Sunday, January 4, 2009

4 stars

Well... I appreciate J-Lo performances in this movie.. Even still the same, at least she gave an improve in her acting...

- ajaymuthecooldevils, Thursday, January 4, 2007

2 stars

center]color=darkred]font=Arial]img]]/font]/color]/center] color=darkred]font=Arial]/font]/color] color=darkred]font=Arial]An Unfinished Life/font]- Einar (Robert Redford) is a gruff font=Arial]Wyoming/font]font=Arial] rancher living with his long-time friend and ranch hand, Mitch (Morgan Freeman), who has been recovering from a bear mauling. Jean (Jennifer Lopez) and her young daughter (Becca Gardner) have run away from her abusive boyfriend and seeking temporary refuge with Einar. Theres still a lot of tension and unspoken anger between the two. Einar blames Jean for the death of his son from a car accident. As their stay continues each member imparts wisdom to the other, hard exteriors get warmed, and lessons about forgiveness are learned./font]/color] color=darkred]font=Arial]/font]/color] color=darkred]font=Arial]/font]/color]color=darkred]font=Arial]This is melodrama with a capital M. i]font=Arial]An Unfinished Life/font]/i] is clunky, the movie hasnt the foggiest idea when it comes to subtlety, the characters all shout out their feelings all the time, and worse yet, its also incredibly transparent. A scene where Lopez breaks a dish and /font]font=Arial]Redford/font]font=Arial] goes nuts is just embarrassing. Of course theyre talking about his dead son but the moment is played to the hilt that I half expected every line to end in a wink (Its just a dish i]font=Arial]wink/font]/i] Maybe its more than a dish to me! i]font=Arial]wink/font]/i] Maybe that was my favorite dish! i]font=Arial]wink/font]/i]). Honestly, it was at this point that the film lost me. The metaphors are another symptom of the films over ramped obviousness; /font]font=Arial]Redford/font]font=Arial] might as well be pointing at the bear to pantomime that its supposed to represent his pain and anger. And Freemans eventual forgiveness of his attacker is meant to encroach upon /font]font=Arial]Redford/font]font=Arial] to do likewise to the source of his pain, and many other moviegoers, Jennifer Lopez. I cannot find a movie emotionally involving when it doesnt even bother to mask its grand statements./font]/color] color=darkred]font=Arial]/font]/color] color=darkred]font=Arial]/font]/color]font=Arial]color=darkred]Seriously, this movie is brimming with sprawling earnestness meant to cover the narrative shortcomings. This is a simple tale that could have suckered the audience in with its framework to showcase complex characters and their personal interactions, like a i]font=Arial]Million Dollar Baby/font]/i], but even though i]font=Arial]An Unfinished Life/font]/i] is simplistic it still manages to beat you over the head. Every line of significance is underlined so you get it. Its like director Lasse Hallstrom was making a seething parody of these overarching, small-town, large cast, homesy feel-good flicks hes specialized in for a decade./color]/font] font=Arial]/font] font=Arial]/font]color=darkred]font=Arial]The acting is all fine. /font]font=Arial]Redford/font]font=Arial] is fun to watch and get his Jeremiah Johnson back on. Lopez makes you forget how much you hate her in other movies. Freeman is settling into a weird groove as a disfigured narrator, and the young Becca Gardner gave me shudders of Jake Lloyd. Every line of hers is flat and monotone, though Ill give her another shot before writing her off. The acting of the ensemble really isnt the issue with i]font=Arial]An Unfinished Life/font]/i]./font]/color] color=darkred]font=Arial]/font]/color] color=darkred]font=Arial]/font]/color]font=Arial]color=darkred]Despite all its earnest intentions and lush scenery, i]font=Arial]An Unfished Life/font]/i] is too much melodrama squeezed into such a small space. Its an old fashioned tale that feels too convenient, too simplistic, too perfunctory, and too unhappy with being any of those things. This feels like a Hallmark card turned into a movie by someone who has no grasp for human emotion. Everything is shouted when it needs to be a whisper and explained when it needs to just be experienced. And yet there will be an audience for this slow burn small-town tale of forgiveness and accountability. It may please people immensely, but I prefer a little subtlety to my drama. I wont say the film is bad but Ill never say i]font=Arial]An Unfinished Life/font]/i] is particularly good, even as melodrama./color]/font] font=Arial]/font] font=Arial]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred]Nates Grade: C/color]/font] font=Arial]/font] font=Arial]/font]color=darkred]font=Arial]Stay- This is a movie that piles on the mystery and clues but once the finish does arrive I was left saying, Thats all there is? Theres so little to this film that, in retrospect, its simply blowing off the dust on i]font=Arial]An Occurrence at Owl Creek/font]/i] (I may have said too much). The trickery Stay throws at you is slightly intriguing but mostly confounding and, once the reveal tidies everything up, wholly unsatisfying. Part of the problem is that I didnt care about any of the characters, so I didnt really care about their plight. Yes I get it that there is a reason for how shallow they are, but the only thing i]font=Arial]Stay/font]/i] had to keep me going was my waning interest in what the hell is going on with everything. Im not the biggest fan of Marc Forster (i]font=Arial]Monsters Ball/font]/i], i]font=Arial]Finding Neverland/font]/i]) as a director, and he serves i]font=Arial]Stay/font]/i] to good and harmful effect. Forster gooses the film with all sorts of visual trickery like jump cuts, using twins and triplets as extras in backgrounds, repeating scenes, playing around with blocking, and lots and lots of spiral staircases (hello, i]font=Arial]Vertigo/font]/i]). And you do realize that most of these disorienting stylistic decisions have a seemingly coherent reason in retrospect, but it also effectively pushes the audience away from the story, aided by the fact that no one can get into the characters. The entire affair seems pointless and empty but it is pretty to look at. I'm sure I'd garner more from a second look, but I really just don't want to see i]font=Arial]Stay/font]/i] again./font]/color] color=darkred]/color] color=darkred]/color]font=Arial]color=darkred]Nate's Grade: C+/color]/font] font=Arial]/font] font=Arial]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred]Howls /color]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred]Moving/color]/font]color=darkred]font=Arial] /font]font=Arial]Castle/font]/color]color=darkred]font=Arial] - The flick is wonderfully imaginative, as to be expected from /font]font=Arial]Miyazaki/font]font=Arial]. The Pixar people really do an excellent job of bringing these films to an American audience and treat the English dubs with reverence. Im not someone wholl bemoan an English dub when it comes to anime but its nice to see effort and respect. The story is a bit similar to i]font=Arial]Princess Mononoke/font]/i] with the warring factions, the mystic and the industrial, and /color]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred]Miyazaki/color]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred]s refusal to paint in black and white. There are so many delightful touches here from the fire demon to the door portal to one segment that just involves two old ladies ascending stairs for three minutes. And yet its the spirit /color]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred]Miyazaki/color]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred] infuses and the attention to story and character that sets his films apart. Theres a genuine sense of magic while watching his films and i]font=Arial]Howl/font]/i] is no different. The only bit of contention I had with the movie is how abrupt the ending is. i]font=Arial]Howls Moving Castle/font]/i] is a bit soaked with confusion and some narrative cop-outs (Surprise! Im the prince responsible for the war!). I would have loved another 30 minutes in this world as well as a better opportunity for /color]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred]Miyazaki/color]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred] to bring his story down with a smoother landing. Still, saying this is a slightly lesser /color]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred]Miyazaki/color]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred] film is like saying a million dollars is less awesome than 2 million dollars. i]font=Arial]Howls Moving Castle/font]/i]/color]color=darkred] is another sterling addition to a master storyteller./color]/font] font=Arial]/font] font=Arial]/font]font=Arial]color=darkred]Nate's Grade: A-/color]/font]

- mrbungle7821, Wednesday, May 31, 2006