Mar 02, 2006|
Predictable and uninspiring, An Unfinished Life is a mediocre film with a palpable cast.
Here we go again with another aging-old-man-learning-to-express-himself movie. With Robert Redford (Spy Game) in the lead as a jaded cowboy unable to recover from his son’s death, and Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) as his sidekick, you know where this is heading. Throw in the always-dubious casting of Jennifer Lopez (Shall We Dance), and you can be sure that while this film might make the bucks, it won’t change your life.
Einar (Redford) harbors a grudge against his daughter-in-law (Lopez) that he has never confronted—until she returns 11 years later with the granddaughter he didn’t know he had (Becca Gardner, Whatever Happened to Alice). Through forced circumstances, the three come to an understanding, and Einar must open up old wounds and begin to accept the hand fate has dealt him. Think the first half of Million Dollar Baby—as the granddaughter tries to forge a relationship with her unwilling grandfather until, despite himself, Einar finds he really cares for her. Freeman practically plays the same character he played in the earlier and better film (the injured sidekick wisely overseeing his friend’s increasing bitterness). Chuck in some simplistic symbolism involving a bear and this is about as close to meaningful as large-scale Hollywood movies can get.
There’s nothing new here that we haven’t seen before but, for all our complaints, it’s really not that bad. Casting Oscar-winning stars does guarantee some quality control. Redford and Freeman give strong performances. J. Lo is still trying to prove she really is from the block, and she fares better than expected here. Camryn Manheim (TV’s The Practice) as waitress Nina has one moving scene that adds another level to her talent above the melodramatic stuff she was doing in The Practice. The addition of the gorgeous Josh Lucas (Stealth) as the town sheriff doesn’t hurt either.
This film is like a bucket of popcorn: Light, easy to digest and enough to keep you mindlessly plodding along until it’s finished. It’s disappointing that director Lasse Hallström hasn’t created something as rich or rewarding as his earlier Chocolat, but for something to accompany a bucket of popcorn, we have definitely seen worse.