Sunday, December 18, 2011

A California lake and 'An Unfinished Life'

I am writing this from near the Clear Lake in Lake County, California. This part of the world is worth visiting - Clear Lake is a large and quiet mountain lake surrounded by a hilly countryside full of wineyards. This area is north of east of Sonoma county and north of Napa (the well known California wine region). The sunset and sunrise views on the lake alone are worth a thousand bucks.

'An Unfinished Life' is a film about American country life and the associated values. Country life here implies life in the countryside, or rural living , even though that may be a misnomer as rural living in the US is far different than most other places in the world. The cast includes the ever so great Morgan Freeman, an aging Robert Redford, and Jennifer Lopez in a surprisingly unconventional role. I think I read that the director of the film is european - nevertheless the story, cinematography and overall direction blend with each other nicely and give the viewer a good overall package.
For me the most important thread which brings the film together is the value system espoused - it is mostly the same kind of values that you will see in typical Western film. A friend of mine who is an ex-US army man once said something like caring for your friends, hurting your enemy (in another context). I think this applies well to the film. Two examples - the first is the relationship between Einar (Redford) and Mitch (Freeman), which shows the best of what friendship is all about. Mitch has been mauled by a bear and needs constant care and medication.  I'll spare you the details of the plot but some of Mitch's request seem downright ridiculous on the surface (although they have a deeper meaning and it comes out nicely in the film). Even if Einar's first response to them is caustic he gives each request time and thought and eventually completes them. Second, the manner in which the Wyoming town people stick together to help each other talks about that value system. Ultimately even Einar helps Jean (Lopez), his dead son's wife even though he first holds her responsible for his death. Of course sarcasm, good old ribbing and verbal fights are common but when it counts they protect their own.
I would recommend An Unfinished Life to anyone who has not seen it (except those who are not too fond of country life & values and for that matter Western films!).

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