An Unfinished Life (2005)

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Released 10-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 103:19
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Lasse Hallström

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Robert Redford
Jennifer Lopez
Morgan Freeman
Josh Lucas
Damian Lewis
Camryn Manheim
Becca Gardner
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Deborah Lurie

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

When Griffin Gilkyson's life came to an abrupt end he left behind Jean, his remorseful pregnant wife, Einar, his traumatised father who has since resorted to an isolated existence and Griff, the daughter he never met, who affectionately wears her father's name as a tribute to a man she never knew.

The unfinished life of Griffin Gilkyson is the cause of much pain and anguish in this Lasse Hallström directed production. The film is adapted from the Mark Spragg novel of the same name and features an eclectic cast including Robert Redford as Einar Gilkyson. Gilkyson is a man who will face his daughter-in-law Jean (Jennifer Lopez), a decade after his son's death to meet the granddaughter he never knew and come to terms with his grief and the reason for his fractured relationship with Jean. Jean is an equally complex character, as the guilt of her husband's death has led her to stay in an abusive relationship with boyfriend Gary Winston (Damian Lewis). Jean only leaves Gary when 11 year old daughter Griff (Becca Gardner) tells her beaten mother that she had broken her promise that Gary would not hurt her again. Desperate to leave her battered existence in Iowa with her daughter in tow, Jean has nowhere else to go but to Einar's ranch in Wyoming, a place where she knows she is not wanted.

But hope exists next door, where Einar's Vietnam buddy and ranch hand Mitch (Morgan Freeman) lives. Mitch has been left disabled and horribly scarred after being mauled by a bear. The bear still roams the ranch much to the fascination of Mitch. Einar takes care of Mitch and Mitch returns the favour by helping him come to terms with reconciliation with Jean and Griff. Josh Lucas and Camryn Manheim also star.

An Unfinished Life (2005) is certainly reminiscent of Oscar-winning Swedish director Lasse Hallström's previous films. The character's have the charm and eccentricity of Chocolat (2000) but also have the flaws which make them human as discovered in The Cider House Rules (1999) and The Shipping News (2001). But the film also has the emotional scope and landscape of perhaps his two most critically acclaimed films Mitt liv som hund (1985) (My Life as a Dog) and What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993).

What is interesting about this Miramax production is that it premiered on DVD in Australia after distribution at selected European film festivals in late 2005 and after a limited American release in September 2005. Surely the film was to be considered for nominations during the award season but as it lacked nominations and awards it arrived straight to DVD. It is hard to believe a film starring Redford and Freeman would have received such limited distribution a decade ago.

However, the film is quite good and Redford and Freeman are very good in their respective roles. The only flaw is perhaps the casting of Lopez. An Unfinished Life marks the actress' return to serious roles post Gigli (2003). Lopez in the late 90s had two roles in U-Turn (1997) and Out of Sight (1998) which showed she was a capable actress yet she seems out of place in An Unfinished Life as she has to play a shamefaced ordinary woman rather then the vivacious woman she is known to play. Lopez serves the role of Jean adequately but not as complex as the character should be, ultimately she is not on par with Redford and Freeman who have created engaging characters touched by misery. The other stand-out performance is Becca Gardner as Griff, who plays the emotional role with understatment and sensitivity. Her scenes with Redford and Freeman are some of the highlights of the film.


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Transfer Quality


The film is presented in 2.35:1 16x9 enhanced widescreen on a single layer DVD.

The film has been encoded at an average bit-rate of 3.96 Mb/s. There are no significant flaws with the transfer apart from minor incidents of MPEG compression artefacts. The natural and realistic colour scheme is well presented with good shadow detail.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


Two soundtracks are available including English 5.1 Dolby Digital and English 2.0 Dolby Digital. The film proves to be an encompassing experience with clear and audible dialogue and a soundtrack by Deborah Lurie which is well suited to this melodrama without being expressively domineering. There are no flaws with the production of the soundtracks.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Forced trailers for Brokeback Mountain (2005), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) and Broken Flowers (2005) .

Main Menu

The main menu is a still image and based on the cover art. There is no accompanying sound. This is a practical but unremarkable menu screen with 20 scene selections, set up options, a resume film option and option to view the theatrical trailer. The forced trailers cannot not be accessed by this menu.

Theatrical Trailer

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The R4 DVD excludes:

R1 excludes:


An Unfinished Life is a satisfying film unfortunately presented on an unremarkable DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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