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An Unfinished Life Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 33

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    An Unfinished Life is inert, kaput -- a middlebrow mush of platitudes rather than an okay corral of distinct characters with heartbeats. It's awful not in an exciting, uncontrolled way but in an overly controlled, narcotized way.

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  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    The film never realizes its dramatic potential, choosing to take predictable story paths with obvious characters.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Poignant and well-acted, it offers heartfelt moments leavened by subtle humor.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    An Unfinished Life isn't original, but, for those who enjoy this sort of drama, it's an opportunity to remember how, in the right circumstances, on-screen characters can touch our hearts.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Sometimes you are either open to a movie, or closed. If you're convinced that An Unfinished Life is damaged goods, how can it begin its work on you?

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 13+

Sentimental drama; not likely to interest kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this drama concerns stressful relations among a young widowed mother, her angry father-in-law, and her 11-year-old daughter: this means that the film includes frequent scenes of family tension. This strain begins with an accidental death of the girl's father, not shown on screen but repeatedly discussed. That said, these scenes are not explosive, but taut and delicately handled. Characters argue, curse, smoke, and drink briefly. One male character abuses his girlfriend, in images that are occasionally abrupt and disturbing, and he is eventually beaten for his transgressions. A character bears scars from a bear attack (and discusses their appearance with the 12-year-old girl), and later in the film, a bear attacks the grandfather, frightening the granddaughter, who reacts and saves him.

  • Families can talk about the theme of forgiveness. The characters are split between those who feel guilty, angry, and unforgiving (Jean and Einar, her father-in-law), and those more open to forgiveness (the girl, Griff and Mitch, the bear's victim): how do all the characters come to appreciate the difficulties endured by the others, and so begin to understand their responses? How does the bear figure as a metaphor for "accidents" and for forgiveness? How might Einar or Jean have found other ways to express their grief and sense of guilt?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Abusive boyfriend, stubborn adults, wise child.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Bear attack, domestic abuse, a beatdown of a deserving villain.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Some aggressive pawing by the bad boyfriend.

  • language false3

    Language: Brief, rough ranchers' language.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Reference to McDonalds.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Smoking, drinking.