THE AGE OF ADALINE
*** (out of 5)
April 24, 2015
Blake Lively as ADALINE BOWMAN
Michiel Huisman as ELLIS JONES
Harrison Ford as WILLIAM JONES
Ellen Burstyn as FLEMMING
Kathy Baker as KATHY JONES
Amanda Crew as KIKKI JONES
Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
BY KEVIN CARR
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When it comes to cinema romances, I tend to enjoy romantic comedies much more than I do romantic dramas. My biggest beef with the dramas is that they can become overly melodramatic and emotionally brittle. If you need proof of this, just set your sites on anything Nicholas Sparks has had his hands on, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
However, I realize that I am not the target market for these movies so as long as they don’t bore me to death, I can be somewhat forgiving with them. Throw in some fantastical element into the mix, and I might be even more forgiving.
“The Age of Adaline” uses its fantastical element to its advantage, and you’re left with a tale that is cut from the same cloth as “The Lake House” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” These are not great movies by any stretch of the imagination, but they allow for a more sweeping emotional journey of unrequited love and obstacles which can seem overblown in a film grounded entirely in reality.
In “The Age of Adaline,” Blake Lively plays Adaline Bowman, a woman who lived a relatively normal life until a car accident and subsequent lightning strike caused her to stop aging. Over the years, Adaline learned that she had to hide her gift from others, and she ends up changing her identity every decade or so to not raise suspicions. However, when she finally falls in love with someone in the modern age, she reassesses the way she has been spending her unnatural life.
There’s a lot of care put into this movie to not make it look like a made-for-TV film, which is something that plagues many modern period pieces. However, the cinematography is careful and sometimes even gorgeous. Likewise, the film is populated by a pretty strong acting slate. Even Lively, who isn’t a great actress, manages to hold her own against Harrison Ford, Kathy Baker and Ellen Burstyn.
There are plenty of problems with this film, however. There’s an awkward narration that shows up throughout the film to keep the audience up to speed. It’s a lazy convention of screenwriting, and the “tell, don’t show” nature of this softens any real impact on the film and the character of Lively.
Another problem, which is common with many romances – both dramas and comedies alike – is a sometimes painfully predictable plot, filled with wild coincidences. I suppose I can let a lot of these issues slide because the movie is in essence just pulp fiction for the romance crowd. It doesn’t purport to be a brilliantly-written piece.
Additionally, the character of Adaline is not very well developed. More over, she is all about vanity, choosing to completely change her identity periodically than to slowly stop wearing make-up to reduce her youthful vitality. The dark edge of “The Age of Adaline” comes when you realize that the title character is obsessed with youth, abandoning almost everyone of consequence in her life when they start pushing 30.
I understand the need to make Adaline a bit of a blank slate. This way, the audience can project themselves on her and live vicariously through her actions, bringing with them their own idiosyncrasies and not be hampered by much of a personality. After all, this is a key element to many pieces of romance fiction, to get the audience to identify with the heroine by not offering much of anything to conflict with their own personalities.
Still, with all these warts, “The Age of Adaline” still serves its purpose for a date night movie. It’s not my cup of tea, and to be honest, I was dreading the screening when it approached. However, considering all of this, the movie is certainly watchable.