The Age of Adaline Review
AN OLD SOUL AND THE ROMANTIC TIES THAT BIND
What if you could live forever? What if you could never age? What would you do if you gained immortality? Of course, these questions are hypothetical in nature and are something a character who ask in a fantasy novel rather in actual reality. Scientific speculations have also begun to crack the immortality code, but the end result of longevity in life is many generations from now. Yet, the allure of living an everlasting life has sparked an intrigue of this idea through books, TV shows, and films. Such is the case with Lakeshore Entertainment in their new romantic drama film titled The Age of Adaline. Does this movie feel congenially sounded or is it too ludicrous with such an outlandish concept?
Born sometime after the turn of the century, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) was brought up to be a respectable woman, rejoicing with the birth of her daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) and enduring the loss of her late husband. One night, in the 1920s, Adaline experienced an automobile accident, plunger herself and her car into the freezing water and chased with miraculous bolt of electricity. Freezing her at this moment in time endows Adaline to live on forever and unable to age. With prying eyes soon questioning her ageless looks, Adaline is forced to live a life of different identities, distancing herself from her daughter and always on the move from those who grow suspicious of her. In the year 2014, Adaline meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), a young man who has taken a charm to her and refuses to take no for an answer. Ellis’s charismatic advances begin to work on her as Adaline enters a relationship with the young man. Yet, she caught off guard when a friendly journey to Ellis’s home to meet his parents Connie (Kathy Baker) and William (Harrison Ford) are met with challenges from her past as William vaguely recognizes Adaline from time spent together in the 1960s.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
To be truthful, I was instantly going to skip The Age of Adaline, believing it was just another generic romantic feature that plays upon the tender heart emotions. Yet, trying to expand my horizon, I decided to take a chance with this film and, after viewing it, found it to be a satisfying romantic endeavor that seems a little bizarre, but has more sprit than most.
The Age of Adaline doses its viewers in a feature that blends romance and magical realism in a similar fashion to other films like Time Traveler’s Wife, Winter’s Tale, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Despite this semi-mystical premise, however, the film interjects a more scientific approach with the movie’s narrator (from sometime in the distance future) explaining the events of Adaline and a more logical understanding through science and from the cosmos. It’s a different approach to this genre, one that feels a little awkward on the surface, but ultimately feels inviting.
The film also delves into a formulaic pattern, splitting the first half of the film in a traditional romance movie with pockets of flashbacks from Adaline’s past as the second half examines Adaline’s experience meeting with Ellis’s parents and the revelations that follow. Like I said, it becomes formulaic and certain aspects of the film could’ve been fully expanded upon, possibly shedding light on specific views and giving The Age of Adaline a little bit more substance. In the end, Adaline definitely pulls on the heart strings, but lacks depth and the potency achievement.
Bypassing its faults and weaknesses, The Age of Adaline is beautifully crafted and presented with care. Director Lee Toland Krieger, who directed past films as The Vicious Kind and Celeste & Jesse Forever, captures a classic romance movie with aesthetics and nuances from both modern times and various time periods through the course of Adaline’s life. From subtle colors palette choices, to production designs, and the even film’s overall imagery, Krieger and his team cast a very picture-esque reflection on The Age of Adaline, regardless of how much you buy into Adaline’s age halting experience.
Blake Lively gives a solid performance in The Age of Adaline as the film’s central character. The twenty seven year old actress, best known for her work on the television show Gossip Girl, plays Adaline with a sense of graceful refinement, intellectual wit, and tarnished vulnerability; a fine role for the actress and a great character for the film’s namesake. Opposite Lively is Game of Thrones star (there just popping up everywhere these days) Michiel Huisman as the smitten Ellis Jones. Huisman, while not the stereotypical dreamy hunk, delivers a favorable (and believable) performance in Ellis and does share intangible chemistry with Lively, conveying the romantic ties to each other in their character’s personas.
In more supporting roles, Ellen Burstyn plays the elder version Flemming, Adaline’s daughter, while Harrison Ford plays the Ellis’s father William. Both seasoned actress and actor lend their film talents to the feature with Burstyn demonstrating a reversal role of being old with her mother’s surreal condition, but it’s Ford who really packs the dramatic punch, expressing a compelling story arc for his character and a terrific performance by Ford in recent years. As a side note, actor Anthony Ingruber should be applauded for his role as a young version to Harrison Ford’s William via flashback sequences. His screen time may be small, but it’s almost uncanny how the twenty year old looks and sounds like a young Ford.
The passage of time and a sense of comprehending agelessness is expressed in The Age of Adeline. While the movie has its pockets of weakness and of being slightly formulaic, Krieger’s film of a woman who cannot age is crafted well with enough love and care that doesn’t feel too sappy or too ridiculous and is expressed quite well with its selection of cast members. It’s not the quintessential romance film of all time, but The Age of Adeline proves better than most run-of-the-mill film adaptations of a Nicholas Spark’s novel, safely securing a place as a favorable choice for “date night” movie for viewers (whether in theaters or at home). Immortality may be the stuff fantasy fiction, but Adeline’s tender story material carries enough weight for audience members to buy into her surreal event without feeling perplexed or cheated in its overall narrative telling.