Blake Lively Lives Through the Ages
Director: LEE TOLAND KRIEGER/2015
Much is being made about the fashion sense of the new film, The Age of Adaline. In it, Blake Lively (Savages, Green Lantern) plays Adaline Bowman. Adaline was born in 1908, and after losing her husband, at the age of 29, she encounters a horrific car accident.
The accident, it is explained, created the conditions necessary for an extremely rare occurrence. It seems that when her car went careening off the road into extremely cold water, and then she was struck by lightning, it changed her cells ability to age (seriously). Stuck at age 29, Adaline begins to have to make adjustments to her life. When her daughter begins to grow up and look more and more like her sister, Adaline has to play the part to not arouse suspicion. Eventually, in the age of McCarthyism and the communist scare, government officials want to know more about why her age doesn’t line up with her birth certificate. Seeking to escape the government’s watchful gaze, and spare her daughter’s ability to live a normal life, Adeline begins a ritual of changing her identity, her workplace, and where she lives every 10 years, to the day.
As I mentioned before, much is being made of the fashion. As Adaline lives through each decade, the styles, the dress, the mannerisms of the day, and more are brought to life. Blake Lively, need not age, just merely change her dress. Fortunately, Ms. Lively exudes the classical aires of a bygone era, bringing believability to the proceedings, even if the script trods along, hitting every typical romantic film’s checklist.
Enter a man, at a New Year’s Eve party that Adaline finds herself attracted to. His name is Ellis Jones (Michael Huisman-World War Z, Wild), and he happens to be good looking, rich, a romantic, and holds to the sort of ideals that were popular when Adaline really was 29. Complicating this new found relationship is that Adaline is only a short time away from her date for changing her name, life, and location.
With her daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn-Interstellar, The Exorcist), aging well towards 90, and needing more attention, this is the worst possible time for romantic pursuits. This will not stop the story from doing so. In fact, it’s what will attract the audience who longs to see such things. The film picks up quite a bit once Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) enters the fray, playing a man who has a connection to Adaline’s much distant past, and her very near future. Unfortunately, Mr. Ford has only a limited amount of screen time, and so the script eases back into a soft, quiet lull.
This is not at all to say that this is a bad film. I believe in most ways that it is exactly as advertised. For those with a longing for pure romance, based on the ideals of love in hermetically-sealed servings of digital story, will be pleased with the offering. It hits all the right notes for its aim, provides a period-piece of sorts with each decade experienced in the film, and wraps things up with a nice little bow.
Too much time is spent on development in the first half, that feels unfinished in the second half. This definitely includes the previously alluded-to backstory between Adaline and William (Ford). It covers the main points to allow you to develop some sense of connection to the poor girl’s story, but it could have been the more interesting part of the experience.
The Age of Adaline, despite its obvious formulaic flaws, is still an entertaining film with a sweet heart. As such, this, and not 50 Shades of Grey, would have been the better Valentine’s Day offering. It’s release in late April, feels more like an April Fool’s Joke, but more likely an attempt at counter programming given that it’s sandwiched between Furious Seven and, the sure-to-be-a-record-breaker, Avengers: The Age of Ultron. Either way, the audience that wants this type of romance will find it, as it gives many who might lie about their age a film that does the same.