Movie Review: An Unfinished Life (2005)

I did say in my returning post a couple days ago that I was going to save my movie reviews for both the best of the best and the truly awful and anything in between I wasn’t going to bother as I’d probably fall back into finding writing movie reviews too time consuming which I’d like to avoid this time around. With that being said having just finished An Unfinished Life, I felt compelled to share some brief thoughts with you guys because it was a movie that totally caught me off guard.

I’ve been seeing An Unfinished Life quite frequently pop into my ‘recommended for you’ category on Netflix and I’ll be the first to admit I kept scrolling past it mainly because of a quick glance at the movie poster and the cast showed me that Jennifer Lopez was one of the stars and around the time of An Unfinished Life’s release she was in some atrocious movies such as Gigli, Maid in Manhattan and Monster-In-Law. I fully expected this particular movie to follow the same pattern despite having the likes of Robert Redford and the wonderful Morgan Freeman joining her on screen. After a lot of stubbornness I finally decided to just bite the bullet and watch it as what’s the worst that could’ve happened?

What happened was something very unexpected as An Unfinished Life turned into a hidden gem of a movie that not many people are even aware of exists. My apprehensions were still strong at the beginning of the movie but as it quickly progressed Jennifer Lopez got better and better and the inclusion of Redford and Freeman was fantastic as I really think working with top actors such as those two guys really elevated J-Lo’s performance. As eluded to I didn’t expect much from the movie but what I got really caught me off guard as it was an emotionally powerful movie which had a lot of lessons to be taken away from about strained family relationships, battling and conquering your personal demons as well as forgiveness and the ability to learn from past mistakes. I haven’t seen a lot of Redford’s movies, just a small sampling but for me this is arguably one of his finer performances. His performance felt so raw and believable as he played a man struggling to forgive others for mistakes that have caused him so much pain and grief despite his best friend forgiving him for a mistake that could’ve ended in death. The way in which Robert Redford shares chemistry with both Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez was exceptional and as expected Freeman was equally as impressive as Redford and even Lopez put in a solid performance.

There were a few little cliches in the movie that I wasn’t particularly fond of and the pace of the movie felt a little slow and drawn out at times. Becca Gardner who plays Lopez’s daughter in the movie was pretty poor at times, she had a painfully monotone voice which bugged me at the beginning but I did slowly warm up to it towards the end when her character was spending more time with her grandfather (Redford). I can’t really be too critical of her as she was only young and didn’t have much acting experience but I can only imagine that the casting team would’ve have seen auditions from hundreds of potential candidates and I would’ve assumed there would’ve been a better young actress to cast in the role instead.

I don’t want to detract from the quality of the film by ending on a bad note so I shall end on a high and praise the cinematography throughout the movie as it was simply breathtaking. Despite being set in Wyoming the movie was actually filmed in Canada but the scenery and the filming locations were so superbly chosen that it was hard not to enjoy each panning shot of the mountainous terrain and splendid views as far as the eye could see.

An Unfinished Life is a movie that didn’t seem to get a wide release and kind of passed many people by which is a shame as it does deserve a wider audience. If you have a spare couple hours and looking for something different to watch then I’d certainly recommend this movie.


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