Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

An Unfinished Life

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Robert Redford as Einar Gilkyson
Jennifer Lopez as Jean Gilkyson
Morgan Freeman as Mitch Bradley
Josh Lucas as Sheriff Crane Curtis
Damian Lewis as Gary Watson
Camryn Manheim as Nina
Becca Gardner as Griff Gilkyson
Lynda Boyd as Kitty
R. Nelson Brown as Rancher Kent
Sean J. Dory as Drunk Cowboy
Rob Hayter as Deputy Bob

Special Features:
Feature Commentary with Director, Producer, and Editor

The Making of an Unfinished Life

Training Bart the Bear

Still Gallery

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 91 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"From the acclaimed director of Casanova, Chocolat, and The Cider House Rules... Academy Award® winners Robert Redford (Best Director, Ordinary People, 1980) and Morgan Freeman (Best Supporting Actor, Million Dollar Baby, 2004) star in this powerful story of risk and redemption. Stoic and heartbroken, Einar Gilkyson (Redford) quietly lives in the rugged Wyoming ranchlands alongside his only trusted friend, Mitch Bradley (Freeman). Then, suddenly, the woman he blames for the death of his only son arrives at his door broke, desperate, and with a granddaughter he's never known. But even as buried anger and accusations resurface, the way is opened for unexpected connection, adventure, and forgiveness. Also starring Jennifer Lopez (Shall We Dance) and Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama, Glory Road)."

An Unfinished Life is rated PG-13 for some violence including domestic abuse, and language.

Mini-Review:
An Unfinished Life is utterly predictable. Within the first 10 minutes of the film you can probably guess how it's going to end. The filmmakers play it entirely by the book and there are really no surprises. That being said, it's still entertaining to watch thanks to the spectacular cast. Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman make a great pair as two old cowboys. Their relationship is very similar to that of Robert Duvall and Michael Caine in Secondhand Lions. They are two grumpy, crusty, isolated old characters who have their worlds turned upside down by the arrival of a young relative. Come to think of it, the similarities don't end there. Both films have abusive boyfriends that the old guys chase off, both have large animals that play key roles (a bear as opposed to a lion), and both are generally feel-good films. Secondhand Lions is a bit more fanciful and comedic, but they have a lot on common.

The rest of the cast is also good. Jennifer Lopez and Josh Lucas hold their own against Freeman and Redford. In fact, child star Becca Gardner holds her own as well as Griff Gilkyson, Redford's granddaughter. Also look for cameos by Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers) as Gary Watson and Camryn Manheim as Nina. Every actor has a moment to shine in this movie and they make the most of it. The beautiful scenery and solid score by Deobrah Lurie help make them look even better.

There's a modest selection of bonus features on the DVD. Included are two commentaries, a still gallery, and your standard "making of" video where everyone praises the director and each other. Then there's a documentary on the training of Bart the Bear for the movie. You begin to appreciate the work that goes into the performance of the animal after seeing this.

An Unfinished Life is a relatively safe, relatively clean movie for a wide audience. Guys will like Redford's tough, cowboy character while women will enjoy the story of forgiveness and the granddaughter bonding with her grandfather. There's a little something here for everyone despite the predictability.

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