Unfinished Life, An
Still in shock from his only son’s death a decade ago, Einar (Robert Redford) has let his ranch fall into ruin along with his marriage. Now, Einar spends his days caring only for his hired handyman and last trusted friend, Mitch (Morgan Freeman), who was gravely injured in an encounter with a grizzly bear. Einar intends to live out his days in this heartbroken solitude…until the very person he blames for his son’s accident comes to town: his daughter-in-law Jean (Jennifer Lopez). Jean shows up broke, on the run with a girl named Griff (Becca Gardner), who she swears is the granddaughter Einar never knew he had. Suddenly, Einar’s quiet life is turned upside down as anger and accusations resurface. But slowly, miraculously, 11 year-old Griff’s curiosity about Western life, and her longing for a family and a father figure, begin to chip away at the stone that has become Einar’s heart – opening up the way for unexpected connection, adventure, mercy and true reunion.
“An Unfinished Life” is a story about the pain, anguish and depression caused by holding onto bitterness in the wake of personal loss. In the case of Einar and his daughter-in-law Jean, it is due to the tragic death of his son, her husband, Griffin. In the case of Mitch, it’s about the near-death confrontation he had with a grizzly bear. But it is also a story of hope and redemption that comes from letting go of those inner demons. The film’s ending is somewhat predictable, but welcome, nonetheless.
The performances are very believable, even though the characters themselves are rather cliché. Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman reminded me of the grumpy old men relationship Freeman had with Clint Eastwood in “Million Dollar Baby.” Jennifer Lopez and Becca Gardner were convincing as an abused, but always hopeful mother and daughter team. Damien Lewis was downright scary as Gary, Jean’s abusive boyfriend.
Despite its flaws, “An Unfinished Life” successfully conveys a message rare in today’s movies. It demonstrates the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation as the only ointment to cure a broken spirit. Language is the only deterrent to Dove approval. It’s too bad that today’s writers can’t portray people who are angry without being profane.