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An Unfinished Life
DVD disk
04.19.2006 By: Sturdy
An Unfinished Life order
Director:
Lasse Halstrom

Actors:
Robert Redford
Morgan Freeman
Jennifer Lopez

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A manís simple life is interrupted when his sonís widow returns after 11 years with a granddaughter. As they struggle to get along, they discover an appreciation for each other and end up teaching one another some valuable life lessons.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Iím not really sure what happened here. AN UNFINISHED LIFE had Oscar written all over it. Great cast, great director and a good story are usually ingredients for a successful drama. And despite the lack of award show recognition, I found AN UNFINISHED LIFE to be a respectable drama that fails to live up to itís great potential.

I really enjoyed the story and the direction. I thought the characters were very interesting and I cared about all of them. I think very highly of Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman and they did wonderful jobs here. I donít really care too much for J-Lo, but she didnít take anything away from the film and with the company she was in, thatís a complement.

The biggest problem with the film is its length. Basically, itís a three-hour movie crammed into less than two hours. Each character has a deep and rich history that we needed to experience rather than hear about. Also, each character underwent a change that needed more time to develop. We needed a deeper exploration of why they were like they were and how they ended up in the way they did.

Itís not often that I ask a filmmaker to make a longer movie, but Mr. Hallstrom really needed to spend more time on these great characters. With such a talented cast, thereís no excuse not to give them a chance and the time to really explore their roles.

With the glaring problems aside, I would say that this movie still manages to be enjoyable and does give us some interesting characters that make for a compelling drama. The scenery was beautiful and I thought Mr. Hallstrom did an admirable job of weaving together the many stories given the time constraints. With another hour and some careful screenplay additions, I think this couldíve been a fantastic film.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with Lasse Hallstrom, Andrew Mondshein and Leslie Holleran: I wanted more from this commentary than I actually got (see the theme here?). It felt like it was in slow motion for long stretches where they paused and spoke slowly about the film. They also didnít seem like they knew what they wanted to say nor did they have much passion for the film.

Making of An Unfinished Life (8:51): So the cast and crew tell you what itís supposed to be about and I agree, but they just didnít follow through with it on screen. Anyway, this featurette is just your standard fluff piece.

Training Bart the Bear (10:03): Bart is one cool bear. I enjoyed the bear subplot. Iím assuming none of these people watched GRIZZLY MAN, otherwise they would be a little more careful. Well, maybe Morgan Freeman saw it, because he didnít want anything to do with the bear. This is a good featurette and Iím amazed they can train a bear to be that well behaved.

Thereís also some Previews and a Still Gallery.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
This film probably fell under the radar for the problems I discussed, but I think thatís a shame. This had all the ingredients to be great, but didnít receive the time and effort it deserved. Despite that, itís a nice film with a great cast thatís well worth the rental.
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