An Unfinished Life (2005)

1661393hI wasn’t expecting much from “An Unfinished Life,” that much is true. Not even Robert Redford can turn a bad movie into a watchable one. But after I was finished with it, I liked it. It’s cheesy in some parts, and recycled, but in the end I’d enjoyed spending almost two hours with these characters. Hell, even Morgan Freeman, whose character Mitch is just another variation on his character from “Million Dollar Baby,” even was an interesting character. Freeman is able to be likable in basically anything he’s in and he’s become a rare commodity in Hollywood, which happens to be a damn shame. The man is too talented for narration, and appearing for five minutes as a mentor to someone.

Otherwise, Hallstrom’s picture is an entertaining and very sweet drama about old wounds. Everyone in the picture has an old wound that still hasn’t healed, and the entrance of Jean into the life of Einar re-opens old wounds and grudges that he can’t let go of. Robert Redford is fantastic as usual. The man is still a damn good actor, and he makes “An Unfinished Life” worth the time spent. Iner is not a very likable character. He’s bitter, obnoxious, and often times, just plain cruel, but Redford is able to convince us to give him a chance even if we never warm up to him. But the pure highlight of “An Unfinished Life” is Becca Gardner who is just excellent as Lopez’s daughter. She’s probably one of the few child actors I can watch without wanting to beat with a shovel, and she plays off against Redford and Freeman better than Lopez. She’s adorable, and her character is utterly fascinating. Her relationship with Redford’s character helps to fuel the movie and keep it going through its typical conventions and she’s a dynamo.

I wish she’d been the main character along with Einar. Hallstrom posits a beautiful movie with amazing landscapes, and I enjoyed “An Unfinished Life” even with its flaws. Jennifer Lopez? Hi, it’s a former fan of yours. Did I say fan? I worshipped you. I had books of pictures with you, I had a huge poster of yours, and I just dreamed of you all the time. And then once you dated P. Diddy Daddy Doo, whatever the hell his name is, I lost interest. And now I can finally see. You’re a terrible actress. Did I say terrible? Every time you were on screen, you proved you’re only famous because of your looks and that nice rump you sport. You couldn’t handle playing off of Robert Redford, I’m sorry. You couldn’t even handle playing off of Josh Lucas. It’s true, you know. You’re horrible. Every time you were on screen, I was in agony, and my sister who sat next to me not paying attention even remarked how horrible you were. Why are you in this movie? Why don’t we have someone better like Sarah Polley? I don’t know, and personally I don’t care.

You’re a horrible actress, and you brought “An Unfinished Life” to a stand still every time you were on screen. I hope you enjoyed working with Redford, because it’s the closest you’ll get to an Oscar. Meanwhile, “An Unfinished Life” is nothing but a Hallmark movie with a great cast, pure and simple. It’s about as cliché and formula as a greeting card, and worst yet, it was predictable. It was so predictable in fact, I guess everything that would happen an hour before. Grandpa would soften up to his granddaughter, the abusive boyfriend would follow Jean, Jean in her one-dimensional personality would fall for the sheriff, and yes, eventually Mitch would confront his demon. Give me something to be surprised about, next time Sure, it’s a glorified Hallmark movie with a great cast, but in spite of it all, “An Unfinished Life” struck a chord with me. The great cast pull in very good performances, and the story is sweet, even if Jennifer Lopez brings it all to a screeching halt.