What You Need To Know:
AN UNFINISHED LIFE deals with forgiveness and reconciliation. Morgan Freeman’s character states the movie's true point: “People hurt you, but you can’t punish them forever.” He utters his words when he sets free the bear that mauled him. Jean and Einar make selfish, destructive decisions involving their children, but they grow up and become more moral people. There is a strong caution for foul language, but AN UNFINISHED LIFE is a quality, but average, drama about family.
(BB, C, LLL, V, S, N, A, D, MM) Strong moral worldview with forgiveness and familial reconciliation, plus characters who are redeemed from their selfishness; 25 obscenities and 16 profanities, many strong; abusive boyfriend hits woman and kicks furniture, villain threatened with gun, and abusive boyfriend is beaten; two brief sexual innuendos, fornication in car seen from a distance and cohabitation; partial rear male nudity when invalid receives shot; drinking; smoking; and, stealing, breaking and entering, and mother exposes young daughter to abusive boyfriends and cohabitation.
AN UNFINISHED LIFE is a story about family and the difficulty of forgiveness, set on dusty Wyoming farmland.
Jean, played by Jennifer Lopez, leaves her abusive boyfriend and moves in with Einar, the father of her deceased husband. Einar, played by Robert Redford, lives on a ranch. Einar is aging and bitter. He doesn’t want to see Jean, because he blames her for his son’s death. Jean doesn’t want to be on his ranch, either, but she has no other place to go and needs a stable environment for her young daughter Griff. Einar has never met Griff until now and doesn’t know how to relate to her.
Einar also has a companion on the ranch, Morgan Freeman’s character Mitch, who is recovering from a bear attack. Mitch’s effort to see that the bear is not tortured or mistreated, even while he suffers pain from the attack, becomes a clear metaphor for the forgiveness that Einar should extend to Jean. The wise Mitch advises Einar to befriend his granddaughter and reconcile with Jean, but Einar can only forge these relationships once he stops blaming Jean for his pain.
Befitting the setting, the movie moves at a slow, loping pace. As might be expected for a movie starring Jennifer Lopez, the characters display their personalities in very obvious ways that leave little room for subtlety or the audience’s mental participation in the story. As the characters begin to interact, however, they become more likeable, and the movie picks up some momentum.
AN UNFINISHED LIFE deals with forgiveness and reconciliation. Morgan Freeman’s character states the real point of the film when he says, “People hurt you, but you can’t punish them forever.” He enacts his words when he sets free the bear that mauled him. Jean and Einar both make selfish, destructive decisions involving their children, but they grow up and become more moral people. They are redeemed from their ugly behavior.
This warm story isn’t appropriate for children, as it contains some strong profanity, domestic violence, a few lawless acts, and situations that are too complex for young people.
Although it’s nice to see a strong character arc, AN UNFINISHED LIFE is a paint-by-numbers family drama probably designed with Oscar hopes in mind. There is nothing special or memorable about it. It is average in all regards, although it would be nice if more average movies were as pleasant to watch and as rewarding as this one.