With this character, Jennifer Lopez redeems herself- A Nice Review

By Rich Copley

HERALD-LEADER CULTURE CRITIC

This just in: J.Lo can act.

OK, that’s something we knew about Jennifer Lopez back in the day, when she was making a name for herself in terrific movies such as Out of Sight (1998, with Kentucky’s own George Clooney), Selena (1997) and My Family (1995).

But then the actress embarked on a career as a celebrity, and the Grammy dress, the C-grade pop albums and the steady stream of arm candy took the spotlight. That’s no surprise when you’re making celluloid refuse such as Gigli (2003) and Monster-in-Law (2005).

But this week we see Lopez in a different light, as an abused girlfriend, single mother and unwelcome houseguest of Robert Redford in An Unfinished Life.

Life is easily Redford’s best movie in many years.

Though he is not directing — Cider House Rules (1999) director Lasse Hallstrom directs the adaptation of Mark Spragg’s novel — Life has a lot in common in tone and theme with Redford’s Oscar-winning directorial debut, Ordinary People (1980).

In both, we have a dead beloved son, and a terminally grieving parent directing all the blame and guilt at one person. In this one, father Einar Gilkyson (Redford) holds former daughter-in-law Jean (Lopez) responsible for his son’s death in an auto accident.

“They call them accidents to make the guilty feel better,” Einar growls when his best friend, Mitch (Morgan Freeman), defends Jean, who returns to his rural Wyoming farm fleeing an abusive boyfriend.

But Einar is nursing some guilt of his own. And he can’t help but gruffly warm to his innocent granddaughter Griff (Becca Gardner), who was named after her father.

Gardner is the movie’s find — a real, natural preteen handling some intense scenes well and melding into life on Einar’s farm.

Thanks to the honest and sometimes funny screenplay by Spragg and his wife, Virginia Korus Spragg, Freeman and Redford create a touching bond that drives the story. Hallstrom directs with a moderate pace that seems to befit the rural Wyoming setting. When you feel a cliche big-event moment coming, it usually doesn’t, giving weight to the tale of redemption.

This is a movie that truly belongs to the ensemble. But hopefully it represents a turn for Lopez toward films that will last longer than her marriages.

2 Responses to “With this character, Jennifer Lopez redeems herself- A Nice Review”

  1. Javier says:

    Hey, i saw an unfinsihed life on friday.its a good movie..its a dramatic movie, good acting especially my wifey JLO!!…..it was sad a lil bit, the bear was crazy haha, cant wait for bordertown dude!! haha

  2. DAN THE MAN says:

    We the fans need to get together and form a group to support Jennifer Lopez against all her haters. Example: We need to be there for her when Mc. Cartneys wife is harrassing her; or when PinkBitch is trying to boycott J.Lo’s merchandise. We should boycott her! Plus her hair is pink she should talk.