Directed by Lee Toland Krieger. Produced by Sidney Kimmel, Gary Lucchesi, and Tom Rosenberg. Written by J. Mills, and Goodloe Salvador Paskowitz. Release date: April 24, 2015.
After seeing the trailer for The Age of Adaline for what felt like years – it was only several months, albeit a few months longer than it should have been given the film was pushed back prior to its initial release date – I was already sick of hearing the story of Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively). By the time the film finally came out, I was just hoping it wouldn’t be as horrible as The Longest Ride turned out to be. Thankfully, it isn’t anywhere close to that bad. It doesn’t work on the whole, but some individual moments are rewarding and it ultimately doesn’t feel like a waste of time, even though it also doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table.
The story, for those who have been spared from the trailer, sees Adaline Bowman, 29 years of age, involved in a car accident that sees her car wind up in a lake, which leads to her drowning. However, a magical lightning bolt not only revives her, but it also prevents her body from aging. She will remain 29 years old forever. But, she also winds up on the run, after the FBI begins to suspect that she has superpowers, so she dons new identities and appearances every decade in order to stay incognito. As such, she’s a lonely woman who can’t have love because of her condition – and even if she found it, her lover would age and eventually die while she would remain the same. It’s the exact type of problem Edward Cullen has, really, except that she doesn’t need to feed on the blood of the living in order to survive.
There’s little more to the story than this, especially because the central romance that eventually develops – with a character named Ellis (Michiel Huisman) – is such a shallow, irrelevant one. You know she’s finally going to meet someone with whom she wants to share a life, you expect that she’ll have to decide whether or not it’ll be worth it, and you can probably even figure out that some sort of magic will tie it all up in a nice bow for all involved. Does The Age of Adaline have much to say about love or mortality? No, it doesn’t. That doesn’t mean it’s not a somewhat enjoyable ride.
A great deal of the limited success it has comes from Blake Lively, who here shines in a way she never has before. Lively isn’t a particularly deep actor, and that doesn’t change here, but she exudes “golden age of Hollywood,” which fits so perfectly with this role. She’s classy and has the right look; if she was actually born close to her character’s date of birth, she would’ve dominated Hollywood at the time. The point is, watching her work here lets us see a perfect marriage between skill set and character. That is delightful.
The Age of Adaline is a date-night movie that tells you how important love is. That’s its goal and it succeeds.
What isn’t quite as delightful is how slight it all feels, how trite is winds up being, and how little it has to say. The stakes feel so incredibly low – at times, the romance in Twilight is better – and we struggle to truly buy in to Adaline’s plight. The central romance is so key to the story and yet whenever we begin to focus on it, the film begins to drag because neither character is all that interesting, the actors’ chemistry together isn’t particularly strong, and in all honesty it’s more fun just watching Blake Lively go through various periods in time, dressed up in various time-fitting outfits and hairstyles.
Despite being prominently featured in the advertising, it may seem odd that I haven’t mentioned Harrison Ford is in The Age of Adaline. He shows up as a former lover – and Ellis’ father, in what is not at all a contrivance, not at all – and essentially exists to give Adaline fatherly advice. This is advice that Adaline’s daughter (Ellen Burstyn) had already given her, by the way, and mostly just hammers home ideas that we’ve already accepted, and are irritated that Adaline hasn’t. Ford is fun, though, and he’s always a compelling on-screen force, so it’s not like it’s disappointing to see him.
The Age of Adaline is a date-night movie that tells you how important love is. That’s its goal and it succeeds. Watching it outside of that context is largely pointless, although its acting is good – Blake Lively has never been better and Harrison Ford is solid – and individual scenes that don’t focus on the central romance work well enough. I didn’t hate it, which is something I feared would happen, but it’s also inconsequential and not something I can recommend.
Bottom Line: The Age of Adaline isn’t a horrible movie, and Blake Lively is really good, but the romance doesn’t really work and it’s not particularly enjoyable.
Recommendation: Unless you’re a fan of unchallenging romance films or Blake Lively, The Age of Adaline isn’t even worth a rental.[rating=2]