Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, and Jennifer Lopez all starred in a family drama together in 2005. At the time, the movie was a box office failure. In the years since the movie’s release, still, not a lot of people have seen the movie. Now, Netflix has brought it to the attention of their audiences and fans are discovering this lost film on the service. An Unfinished Life is currently sitting at the number five spot for most popular movies on Netflix.
Jennifer Lopez plays Jean. Years ago, her husband and great love, Griffin, died in a terrible car accident. She was pregnant at the time, and now has a daughter named Griff. At a difficult time in her life, she shows up on the doorstep of her old father-in-law, Einar, who she hasn’t talked to since Griffin’s death. Played by Robert Redford, the father-in-law was unaware he had a granddaughter, and doesn’t particularly want anything to do with Jean. He doesn’t know the details of his son’s death, but he blames her.
Jean asks to stay at his ranch until she gets back on her feet. She has a bruise on her face that hints at something terrible having happened, but doesn’t explain. He decides to let them stay. Jean (Jennifer Lopez) gets a job as a waitress at the diner and while things are tense between her and Einar (Robert Redford), the grandfather and granddaughter have a chance to get to know each other and bond. Griff also bonds with Robert Redford’s neighbor, Mitch, played by Morgan Freeman.
While Robert Redford’s character is gruff, we learn more about the Wyoming based rancher and why he’s such a tough person and comes across as cold. We see him be cold with a cat, and short with his estranged daughter-in-law (Jennifer Lopez), but we also see him taking care of his neighbor and friend, Mitch. Eventually, the audience learns that the reason Mitch is disabled is that things went wrong when the pair went to save a calf from a bear. Robert Redford’s character was drunk, using poor judgment, and Morgan Freeman’s character was mauled by a bear as result. That’s why Robert Redford’s character makes sure that Mitch has food, his insulin, and helps take care of him.
While Robert Redford’s character has a relationship with Morgan Freeman’s character and his granddaughter that help soften him up for the audience, the way he treats Jennifer Lopez’s character remains harsh and cold. Eventually, he gets details from her about how his son, Griffin, died. And then he really blames her for his death and tells her that she needs to find somewhere else to live. She does. But then, granddaughter and grandad reunite for a dangerous caper, things go wrong, and at the hospital, Jean and Einar finally find some room to bond from there.
There’s still more to resolve in this story. The person who bruised Jennifer Lopez’s face shows up, and Robert Redford gets involved. The fate of the bear that mauled Morgan Freeman is in play. And, of course, the transformation of Robert Redford’s gruff and bitter character.
With the big stars involved in An Unfinished Life, this release had a budget of $30 million. Sadly, it only earned back a little over $18 million at the worldwide box office. Reviews for the movie are generally mixed. Some really love it as a family drama, while others feel the emotions are pushed too far. Some of the critics have said that the story yearns for real emotional depth that is only glimpsed in moments throughout the film. Users on IMDb have given it a strong 7.0 rating. Meanwhile, on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics give it a rotten 52% while audiences give it a much stronger 67%.
While Jennifer Lopez is perhaps most well known as a singer, she’s had a long career as an actress. The early 2000s were when a number of her rom-coms came out, like The Wedding Planner. In 2005, she released An Unfinished Life and Monster-In-Law, and then seemed to slow down a bit with her acting career. Her 2019 appearance in Hustlers brought attention back to that side of her career for audiences. She is currently set to return to the world of rom-coms with her upcoming movie, Shotgun Wedding.