“An Unfinished Life” is a story about the pain, anguish and depression caused by holding onto bitterness in the wake of personal loss. In the case of Einar and his daughter-in-law Jean, it is due to the tragic death of his son, her husband, Griffin. In the case of Mitch, it’s about the near-death confrontation he had with a grizzly bear. But it is also a story of hope and redemption that comes from letting go of those inner demons. The film’s ending is somewhat predictable, but welcome, nonetheless.
The performances are very believable, even though the characters themselves are rather cliché. Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman reminded me of the grumpy old men relationship Freeman had with Clint Eastwood in “Million Dollar Baby.” Jennifer Lopez and Becca Gardner were convincing as an abused, but always hopeful mother and daughter team. Damien Lewis was downright scary as Gary, Jean’s abusive boyfriend.
Despite its flaws, “An Unfinished Life” successfully conveys a message rare in today’s movies. It demonstrates the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation as the only ointment to cure a broken spirit. Language is the only deterrent to Dove approval. It’s too bad that today’s writers can’t portray people who are angry without being profane.