With trailers often giving a more Nicholas Sparks vibe than The Curious Cage of Benjamin Button, Age of Adaline falls into a comforting median between the two, delivering a slow-paced, melodramatic romantic element closely akin to the contents of Sparks’ IMDB page but with the magnetic intrigue of Button.
We are introduced immediately to Adaline Bowman (Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively) in the present time, already we see her conservative, old fashioned style shining through the pixels as she collects yet another fake identity, which leads us to exposition time. A quirky narrative explains it all, one fateful night on a snowy night, Adaline suffered a tragic car accident and a bolt of lighting, and with some added explanation of science mumbo-jumbo to make it legitimate (which won’t be discovered until 2035) her body would “henceforth be immune to the ravages of time”.
This is where it gets interesting, the most intriguing parts of the flashbacks, they look like something straight out of a timeless fashion editorial with some great choices as far as styling is concerned. It’s just a shame that these moments aren’t focused on more and are instead translated through quick cut away. When Adaline discovers that she cannot age and when the FBI are hot on her trail, she must leave everything behind, even her daughter, in order to ensure their safety.
The emotional weight is brought forward to present day, in charming scenes with Adaline and her now elderly daughter Flemming (Academy Award winning Ellen Burstyn), with an interesting parental aura from Lively and an energetic child-like contrast from Burstyn, you almost wish they mad more scenes together.
However, this is Blake Lively’s movie, and she carries it on her shoulders gracefully with an incredibly demure and ethereal presence. While her character isn’t charismatic or overly confident, she is exactly who she should be, a woman older than her looks, mentally stuck in a time of ultimate lady-like etiquette and forced to be secluded from love, even her best friend is a blind woman. All of these qualities are translated perfectly by our star, who truly makes you feel for all the character must have gone through.
It’s at a glitzy New Years Eve party that Adaline meets Ellis (Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman), a charming, often nerdy and devilishly handsome history enthusiast who won’t stop until he gets his girl. The game of cat and mouse surprisingly doesn’t feel forced and is aided by Huisman’s, excuse the pun, lively, portrayal. Although one complaint would be that he’s too perfect to the point of unrealistic. However, will love set her free?
A slow pace contently moves along until about halfway, when the legend that is Harrison Ford is introduced as Ellis’ father, William Jones, and this is where the big kick of a twist hits Adaline hard. What Lively seems to do incredibly well is act as a chameleon and managed to share wonderful chemistry with all of her supporting cast members and this is prominent with the Adaline-William scenes and one in particular is where she truly radiates as a dramatic actress.
Director Lee Toland Krieger has a wonderful style of filmmaking that serves the story the best it can, with carefully considered close-ups, choices of setting and scenery as well as great visual quirks.
A major disappointment was how the film skips over important character development scenes that could have brought some meaningful key moments as far as emotional impact goes, which would have been a welcomed highlight seeing as how there aren’t enough raw moments to dishevel its modest outlook.
Overall, Age of Adaline brings a fresh fairytale to the epic romance genre, one that grows gracefully towards a satisfying climax. While it won’t wow audiences, great performances from the cast as well as a terrific turn for Blake Lively and Lee Toland Krieger, you can be satisfied knowing that this is one film that will subtly stand the test of time.
The Age of Adaline is out NOW
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger Written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz Starring: Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman Michiel Huisman as Ellis Jones Harrison Ford as William Jones Ellen Burstyn as Flemming Prescott Kathy Baker as Kathy Jones Amanda Crew as Kikki Jones Lynda Boyd as Regan Anthony Ingruber as Young William