Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"An Unfinished Life" (2005) - Movie Review

There is an effortlessness in the smoothness of “An Unfinished Life” and in the acting of Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman that makes it something of a simple predictable story into a simple story. It follows the classic formula of reconciliation with the lost relationships but it does it effective without shudder and emphasis. Lasse Hallstrom has the cast to do that job of easing into the comfortability of the story and then let the surroundings of supposed Wyoming (though everything was shot in Canada) to do the rest.

Jennifer Lopez plays single mother Jean and is running away from an abusive boyfriend Gary (Damien Lewis) with her daughter Griff (Becca Gardner). In the small luscious green town of Wyoming is Einar (Robert Redford) with his long time injured friend Mitch (Morgan Freeman). A year ago Mitch got mauled by a bear and it is back in town. Before Einar could get his say for his friend’s misery, it gets captured and put in a local zoo. Mitch has a strange feeling towards the bear. Einar has the same towards Jean, his dead son’s wife. Jean was the driver when the tragedy happened and has hidden the fact of having a grand daughter and grand father from each of them. With nowhere to go, she lives at the mercy of Einar who has nothing but unforgiving spite for taking away his son forever.

The tradition of broken relationship glued by the generation next is as mentioned traditional. Out here there is a calmness in story telling and does not take the melodrama of it to sweat. Redford’s Einar has some lonely mumbling moments with his dead son and Morgan Freeman has his wise smart words as he always does. How can he speak up such simple life lessons and adds a gravity to it that the only thing left is to listen and follow it? Even if it is going to be someone like the hard nut Einar.

In this town where every one wishes every one and knows them by first name, there buries a deep story within for each of them. In the waitresses like Nina (Camryn Manheim) who not alone knows Einar but knows his emotions and the simple comic nature of the doctor and Einar there exists a soulful town. There are plot pushers like Crane (Josh Lucas) to get Jennifer Lopez’s Jean a pair and there is the regular waitress Nina in the town for support in between these lost characters. Nothing much appears to be there in this place and there is a question of the life Einar has been leading. It is nothing but pure regret, hate and grief. It only reached its height with his dear friend Mitch getting crippled and him being helpless.

Lopez is an odd choice but she fits the bill. Not too much to extract herself out in the emotional frontier. Her Jean has been the good looking gal and has been surviving clinging on to these boyfriends she settles for. She has put up with Gary and now has to put up with Einar. She has not talked or seen him since her husband’s funeral and she prefers him over somewhere else. She comes by and get the Sheriff Crane for multiple purposes. Getting away from loneliness has driven right to Gary but now she has to think sane, at least for the sake Griff.

Griff is getting there to grow up and learn the truth about the adults. There is nothing but deceit and sorrow. And in Einar she sees more of it. Einar gets some wise standard talks from Freeman’s Mitch and begins his road to redemption and meaning. It begins with bonding with his grand daughter. Simple things makes this piece of normalcy into something better than good. Gary as the trend of angry boyfriends goes visits the town and with the new guardian Einar, he gets the treatment to get off the town. Crane comes by and does his part in the way that these kind of films might settle for fist fights. Crane comes inside his vehicle with drenched Einar. Einar asks if it is ok to not talk about this at all and Crane abides. Moments like those makes “An Unfinished Life” a story knowing what it deals with and mainly the people it brings out. These are people who lead simple life with straight minds and has always lie with wounds to lick.

Lasse Halstrom does not provide something new but polishes an old story with some good story telling and cast that delivers what they were recruited for. There are predictable moments of possible tragedies and the escapes of it but it always has a reason and slides in those like a perfect tightening of a new pair of screw and a bolt. “An Unfinished Life” will always lead a smile and care from its audience, even in its slightly overdone melodramatic moments.

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