Hallström treads lightly, though, letting the actors work out the story with a natural, easy pace, void of the brute sentimental force of a Lifetime family drama, but still, disappointingly, played with cookie-cutter predictability.
The performances are solid, but not stand-out. Lopez is not exceptional in any way, and Freeman proves himself yet again to be the moral center of the universe; the world would be a much better place if we all had miniature Morgan Freemans sitting on our shoulders, steering us to make the right choices. He does the wise old soul bit so well that it’s hard to begrudge him another go at it.
But the emotional territory here is too well-trodden. The only thing that truly feels fresh in is the scenery (British Columbia standing in for Wyoming). From the wide-open spaces of the ranch to the quiet feel of a small town, the surroundings are the most distinctive feature of the film — which is pretty disappointing when you have the likes Redford and Freeman at the ready in blue jeans and cowboy boots.
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].