April 24, 2006

An Unfinished Life (2005)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment

108 mins. · PG-13
16x9 · 2.40:1

Format
DVD

Audio
English - DD 5.1
French - DD 5.1

Subtitles
English, Spanish

Extras
Audio Commentary, Featurettes, Still Gallery

Starring
Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez, Morgan Freeman, Josh Lucas, Camryn Manheim, Becca Gardner

Review by
Murray Wasylnuk


Rating



(2005)

Absolutely beautiful cinematography captures a humanistic tale of forgiveness in the film "An Unfinished Life."

Retired rancher Einar Gilkyson (Robert Redford) still feels the emotional effects in dealing with the loss of his son Griffin, over a decade ago. With his marriage broken and his ranch slipping into despair, Einar spends his days caring for fellow ranch-hand Mitch (Morgan Freeman), whose life was nearly taken when he crossed paths with a feeding grizzly bear.

Einar's life soon faces more turmoil when his daughter- in-law Jean (Jennifer Lopez), the widow of his dead son, returns to the ranch with Einar's young granddaughter Griff (Becca Gardner) in tow. Being completely down on their luck, the two ladies seek a temporary place to stay, even though Einar and Jean have not been close since Griffin's funeral. Soon after arriving at the ranch, Jean takes a job at a diner in the nearby town and strikes up a friendship with fellow waitress Nina (Camryn Manheim). While her mom is off at work, a curious Griff spends her days on the ranch getting to know the abundance of cats roaming the farm, while becoming close friends with Mitch. Director Lasse Hallstrom weaves an intricate tale of human emotion that, in one way, shape or form, connects the individual characters and their personal struggles together.

Great performances set against the breathtaking and quite rural setting of Wyoming; "An Unfinished Life" is a great story that appears a bit simple on the surface, yet encompasses the complexities of human behavior, making for a well thought-out storytelling. To me, having Robert Redford in a film immediately provides it with a distinctive level of credit. Although his performances possess a type of roughness, even a bit dry at times, he just makes a film easy to watch. Robert Redford has always managed to maintain that professional presence that few seasoned actors seem to contain. "An Unfinished Life" also showcases the acting talents of veteran actor Morgan Freeman, with some added memorable performances from Jennifer Lopez, Camryn Manheim and Becca Gardner. "An Unfinished Life" is a film that offers a certain flow and watchfulness, making for a rather pleasant experience.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment produces a marvelous transfer for this DVD release of "An Unfinished Life". Good color saturation flaunts the lush greens and dusty browns of the mountainous landscape, while producing natural flesh tones that appear slightly pinkish in a couple of scenes. The rich depth of black levels provides a wealth of fine detail throughout the films presentation. The transfer comes free of dust or dirt particles, with a minor amount of fine grain coming from the compression. Overall, "An Unfinished Life" furnishes a solid visual display that is sure to please.

Generally subtle in exhibition, the mix for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is effective in achieving the right mood for the films presentation. Offering good use of all channels, with vocals that are reproduced to appear natural at all times.

This DVD of "An Unfinished Life" comes with an added audio commentary that offers viewers more from the technical side of the story. Featuring participation from director Lasse Hallstrom, producer Leslie Holleran and editor Andrew Mondshein.

There is a short behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film, simply titled "The Making of An Unfinished Life". Also included is the featurette "Training Bart the Bear" which offers an entertaining and informative look at the main animal star of the film that should not go unwatched if you are an animal lover. Completing the value added materials section is the inclusion of a still photos gallery.

The respect and admiration that was shared amongst the cast and crew towards director Lasse Hallstrom really shows in the completed film. I thoroughly enjoyed "An Unfinished Life" as the film is a good example of how the right combination of actors and story can make for one terrific and memorable cinematic experience.



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