- on Friday, 24 April 2015 14:44
- by Frank Wilkins
There’s an interesting premise buried somewhere beneath the rubble of the ramshackle story in The Age of Adaline, a film that tries very hard to be a powerful love story but is, instead, just a ridiculously contrived message film about, well, let’s see… about why it’s valuable to age?
There are so many better ways to tell a story about the beauty of growing old with the ones we love than wrapping it in a gimmicky ruse that has to be explained away in a lengthy voiceover that goes into lightning strikes, DNA, freezing water, heart rate, and some mumbo jumbo junk science that won’t be invented until the year 2030.
But that’s exactly what happens when Adeline Bowman (Blake Lively) drives her car off the road and into a lake before dying sometime in the 1930’s. We can almost hear the voiceover talent holding back the giggles as he goes into a lengthy description of how a lightning strike (how much bad luck can a person have in a 5-minute span?) somehow interacts with Adaline’s DNA and puts her in a state of eternal youth at the age of 29. It’s as if the filmmakers had the makings of a wonderful story about eternal youth, love, and the beauty of growing old, but didn’t know how to couch it in a believable concept. So they came up with The Age of Adaline.
We next meet Adaline in modern day as she is buying a new identity while preparing to cut all ties, move away, and find another job. That’s what she does every decade or so to keep others from finding out about her affliction. Or, is it really an affliction? And why would she want to hide it? For it all to work, and for us to buy into her story, we must understand her problem. The gravity of her hardship of being eternally youthful and the dangers of someone finding out about it are never really realized, so we don’t have an emotional investment in her dilemma. Everything falls flat.
Via a series a flashbacks that are actually quite artfully handled, we see many of Adaline’s past romantic relationships wilt on the vine because of her reluctance to let them fully develop. She’s afraid of getting close to anyone – other than her own daughter (Ellen Burstyn) who is now 60 years her senior – for fear of them discovering her secret.
The Age of Adaline is a beautiful film to look at and is actually constructed quite brilliantly by director Lee Toland Krieger who made a Hollywood splash with The Vicious Kind back in 2009. He does flashbacks better than most and lends a pleasant, painterly quality to nearly every scene of the film.
The cast does an admirable job with the thin content written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz, but Lively’s one note performance is decidedly the weakest of the bunch. Sadly, she pales when sharing the screen opposite Burstyn, then again, most do. However, the film comes to life when Harrison Ford enters the picture late as the object of a “twist” when Adeline (who now goes by a different name) visits the home of new beau’s parents.
It’s a great role for Lively as she knocks us dead in her glamorous wardrobes that reflect whichever period the flashbacks plunk us down into. Yet her mood and demeanor never register above peculiarly distant. She’s always on the verge of crying and never has much to say. Sure, we understand that her character calls for melancholy. That is is if you buy into the remote idea that she shouldn’t allow herself to get close to anyone.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a suggestive comment.
Runtime: 110 mins
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Writer: J. Mills Goodloe, Salvador Paskowitz
Cast: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford
Genre: Drama | Romance
Tagline: The world has changed in the last century. Adaline has not.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'll always be you rmother. You'll always be my daughter"
Release Date: April 24, 2015
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: After miraculously remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever.
No details available.