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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

An Unfinished Life (2005)

I've written before about movies that seem to fall between the cracks and which are studiously not aired. This "all-star" film from director Lasse Hallstrom was apparently never deemed worthy of being scheduled on satellite TV and has only rather belatedly surfaced on terrestrial TV where it was awarded a paltry one out of five stars in the blurb. Since it has a 7+ rating on IMDb, I was intrigued to find out who was correct and having now watched it, I will add my positive vote to those discerning viewers.



Not that I am a particularly big fan of Robert Redford whose later roles have vainly attempted to recapture his previously pretty looks by careful camerawork. Nor have I ever been much enamoured of the preening Jennifer Lopez. However, I am happy to say that they are both excellent here and this might well be her best-acted role ever. Abused by her current boyfriend, -- we've seen her as such a victim before --, she grabs her 11-year old daughter and seeks refuge in Wyoming with her rancher father-in-law Redford, whom she has not seen since her late husband's funeral and who was not previously aware that he even had a grand-daughter. She is initially not made welcome since he continues to blame her for his son's death in a road accident when she was at the wheel. His wife has also left him and his only companion is hired hand Morgan Freeman whom he must nurse after the latter was badly mauled by a bear. For once Redford is playing his age and not only are his looks those of a grizzled older man, but he is a curmudgeon to boot. However the depth of the relationship between him and Freeman, who gives as good as he gets in the short-temepered stakes is moving, as is his growth as he comes to love his little grand-daughter and even to forgive Lopez.



There are also fine roles for Damian Lewis as her violent -ex, Camryn Mannheim as the local cafe owner, Josh Lucas as the country sheriff, and expecially young Becca Gardner as the strong-willed daughter. It's a pity that this film did not make more of a mark, since Gardner might then have had the subsequent career that her playing here warrants. There is also a wonderful turn by a great grizzly bear, the same one that attacked Freeman, who looks ever so cuddly but who in the end was simply following his animal instincts. And even he deserves forgiveness!
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