An uplifting melodrama, shot in an exotic locale, just in time for Oscar season? Yep, it’s Lasse Hallström, director of ”Chocolat” and ”The Shipping News” — although the gentle helmer waves away any suggestion of a movie formula. ”I would really prefer to shoot in New York, because that’s where I live,” chuckles the Swedish transplant. Nevertheless, the American West, not New York, is the backdrop of ”Life,” which tells the story of a rancher (Robert Redford) who must come to terms with his son’s death after his troubled daughter-in-law (Jennifer Lopez) arrives with a little girl who happens to be his grandchild (Becca Gardner). Hallström actually shot his reported $30 million film in northern Canada, just as Lopez’s personal life was imploding last year. ”She seemed absolutely cool about [her] ongoing debacles,” the director reports. ”There must have been some pressure, but I think we all enjoyed the hiding spot we had in Canada.” Hallström promises a ”slightly different Redford” than audiences are accustomed to. ”I shouldn’t say more,” he says. ”That will be my teaser.”
WHAT’S AT STAKE Talk about unfinished lives: The legendary Redford has never won an acting Oscar.