Since the death of her husband Jean Gilkyson (Jennifer Lopez) deals with some pretty hard knocks, all thanks to one too many wrong choices. Following her husband’s tragic death, Jean walks away from family ties, and raises her young daughter (Becca Gardner) on her own. Fleeing from an abusive relationship, Jean knows she cannot run forever so with funds running low, she winds up at her father-in-law’s doorstep, hoping he’ll take them in. Einar (Robert Redford) hasn’t ever come to terms with the death of his son or the one person he holds responsible for his death; his elusive daughter-in-law.
Time passes and the three of them somehow cohabitate. But Einar devotes much of his time taking care of his ranch foreman (Morgan Freeman) who, a year ago was mauled by a bear. Re-building her life turns out to be more difficult than Jean thinks. While trying to make better choices for her young daughter, Jean meets the local sheriff, Crane Curtis (Josh Lucas) who complicates her new lease on life. But bigger problems soon arrive when Jean’s leaving doesn’t sit too well with her ex, and before long Gary (Damian Lewis) drives into town.
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It’s too bad that this movie has some foul language because otherwise it’s quite touching. It isn’t often that something promotes healing and forgiveness in such a poised way. Does this mean that the script says is ultimately right? No, not necessarily but it does have an excellent starting point, and that’s something. The fact that all the characters carry burdens is actually a good thing for the story. But the film does elicit emotion. Jean lives from one relationship to the next with nary a thought to her daughter; and this leaves both with some emotional scars. Eventually, Jean realizes her selfish motivations are damaging and unhealthy.
In the chair is Lasse Hollstrom, the Cider House Rules (a film my mother detests and I have no plan to see) director. He’s also been behind the camera for Chocolat which happens to be one of my favorite “artsy” films. This director has a kind of quiet way of telling his stories and that alone makes him a visionary. This movie is very different (script) but yet so much the same in its reflective moods. The veteran actors turn in top-notch performances as does Lopez but the youngster Becca Gardner gives a truly touching performance. Everyone who has a part in making the movie brings to the screen a stirring story. It might be easily forgotten because of the slow pace that it unfolds, but then, you aren’t looking past that to the thought-provoking questions it leaves.
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Content: the film is PG13 for use of the F-word (15 minutes in), there’s several other crudities [sh*t] and numerous abuse of deity [GD]. There is implied pre-marital sex between a couple; one man makes a comment about oral sex and there’s references to homosexuality.