AN UNFINISHED LIFE (Lasse Hallström). 107 minutes. Opens Friday (September 23). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NN Rating: NN
I'm not sure what's more ridiculous: Jennifer Lopez as an abused Kansas housewife or Robert Redford as a mean, sarcastic rancher. Add a third implausibility: that anyone ever took director Lasse Hallström , the guy who went from My Life As A Dog to Chocolat and The Shipping News, seriously.
Lopez plays Jean, a single mom who packs up her preteen daughter ( Becca Gardner ), gets on a Greyhound to escape her wacko white-trash boyfriend and ends up at the Wyoming ranch of her crusty father-in-law, Einar (Redford).
Einar, who's blamed Jean for his son's death more than a decade earlier, has no idea he's a grandfather. The script soon travels the well-worn path showing us that all grumpy old men -- oh yeah, Redford also lives with fellow rancher Mitch ( Morgan Freeman ) -- need to heal their deep wounds is some good ol' female company.
What wounds are we talking about? Besides the emotional ones, we've got some physical ones, too, including Einar's alcoholism and Mitch's near death in a very symbolic grizzly attack.
All this hokum is captured by Hallström with a curious detachment, as if he knows the material's second-rate.
Lopez works hard to make us forget her booty's miscast, but Redford can't convince us in a role made for Tommy Lee Jones or Robert Duvall. Besides newcomer Gardner, whose spunky grit communicates nicely onscreen, the most relaxed, authentic performance comes from the bear.