Movie Review: “The Age of Adaline”
Not all that glitters is gold.
“The Age of Adaline” has a unique concept and an undeniably beautiful cast. Unfortunately, only one of these aspects is utilized (hint: Michiel Huisman’s abs).
Blake Lively’s character (“Gossip Girl”) Adaline Bowman sparkles as the protagonist in a multitude of period dresses, but her personality does anything but shine. In one scene, Adaline is described as an incredible woman, but besides her inability to age, her character is dull and her lines fall flat.
The film opens with an awkward voice-over that explains how Adaline stopped aging. Adaline had just gotten married in her home in San Francisco and had a child when her husband died abruptly, leaving her a widow. Not long after, on a rare snowy evening, Adaline’s car crashed into the ocean, and she died as well. Or rather, she almost died, until a bolt of lightning hit Adaline’s car and resuscitated her.
Adaline’s dramatic near-death experience cued an awkward voice-over which offered an out-of-place, quasi-scientific explanation of what happened to Adaline, only to conclude that science actually can’t explain what happened to her. Hereafter, the movie goes between the present (the 21st century) and the past (primarily the 1960s and 70s).
In the past, Adaline quickly realizes that she is no longer aging when people start to mistake her for her daughter’s sister rather than her mother. After a close run-in with the FBI, she decides that she needs to constantly be on the move and changing identities. This small action sequence is the only real action in a film that could use a lot more of it.
In present time, Adaline works at a library in San Francisco. At a New Year’s Eve party, Adaline makes eye contact with a ruggedly handsome man named Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman, “Wild”). Ellis is charming if not a little naive in his pursuit of Adaline. Adaline, believing that she can have no real future with Ellis, resists his advances before caving and agreeing to go with him to his parent’s 40th anniversary party. At this point in the film, Ellis and Adaline’s relationship advances at warp-speed pace, but, while both actors are stunning and charming on their own merits, they have seemingly no chemistry.
When Adaline goes to Ellis’s parent’s house, she realizes that Ellis’s father is William Jones (Harrison Ford, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”), a man she loved many years ago. During her time at the Jones’s home, Adaline experiences flashbacks of her romance with William. In a strange twist of events, Adaline has more chemistry with William, her current lover’s father, than her current lover. Ford is convincing as Ellis’s father, William, and Adaline’s past lover and his portrayal of a man who never stopped loving the girl that got away is both touching and heartbreaking.
After a confrontation with William, Adaline flees. Ellis pursues her only to discover that her car has crashed, and she appears to be dead at the scene of the accident. Amid Ellis’s despair, snow starts to fall and the awkward voiceover begins to narrate the scene. Adaline dies again but is resuscitated by a defibrillator.
Later in the hospital, Adaline tells Ellis her secret and explains that she loves him. Ellis strangely takes this news without question and continues to stare at Adaline with puppy eyes. The film skips ahead a year later to find Adaline and Ellis getting ready for a night out on the down. Checking herself in the mirror, Adaline finds a single gray hair. The films ends with the idea that Adaline has the chance to grow old with Ellis.
Overall, this movie lacked any real plot or sense of excitement. The story did not build up to any action, and the saddest part of the movie was when Adaline’s cavalier king charles spaniel died. If you’re looking for a film that bumbles around (in sparkling vintage costumery) and has moments of cinematic and emotional appeal, “Age of Adaline” is a perfect fit.Follow @eblom25744