An Unfinished Life (12A) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Robert Redford plays an old-timer who's swapped booze for self-loathing following the death of his only son. Now he looks after his friend (Morgan Freeman) who got mauled by the lion that haunts the mountains surrounding Redford's Wyoming farm. Life takes a sudden turn when his daughter-in-law (Jennifer Lopez) shows up, with bruises on her face and an 11-year-old daughter in tow. Initially reluctant to give her refuge, the old man gradually unbends, and the secrets begin to tumble out.

Redford seems to be aiming for the gruff redemption-seeker Eastwood played in Unforgiven (with the same best friend in Freeman), but any hopes of humility or understatement are dashed by the syrupy warmth director Lasse Hallstrom pours over everything. He also displays a notably benign view of grizzly bears, which, as Werner Herzog's recent documentary about Timothy Treadwell shows, are anything but sentimental. Soft-hearted is fine; soft-headed is just a drag.

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