Film Review – The Age of Adaline (Second Take)
The Age of Adaline
If you have watched one immortal or “does not age” character film, you have seen them all, right? At least you think so. There are quite a few comic-book based, comedic, and dramatic films that have a central character that time does not touch. However, they all vary with the origins of their particular condition.
The Age of Adaline focuses on the journey of one young woman from a common, even somewhat depressing, life into one of over 100 years old but still in the body of that young woman. Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) struggles with her condition, having to essentially run from her truth and reinvent herself illegally every ten years. Her only constant connection is her daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) whom Adaline must refer to as a friend in public. Things change on New Year’s Eve (which is also her birthday), when Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) spots her across the room. He is instantly smitten and determined to know and date this beautiful woman. Considering she is at the end of her ten year stint as “Jenny,” Adaline is determined to not fall for this persistent man. But what would a romantic film be without the great guy and insanely complicated relationships? Adaline takes a chance.
First off, I never thought Blake Lively could carry a film with her as the star. Other than the TV series, Gossip Girl, she is mostly the supporting actor in her projects. I had no clue that she could even act well enough to pull off a complicated character like Adaline. This film proved me utterly wrong. Blake Lively possessed the sophisticated, beautiful, and worldly Adaline perfectly. Even putting her up against Ellen Burstyn and Harrison Ford, who plays Ellis’ father William, she holds the essence of Adaline very well. Her capability of going through immediate changes in emotionality and having them processed so well on the close-ups of her face truly amazed me. She completely inhabits the character from the way she walks, talks, dresses, and styles her hair.
The creativity of the film in its telling of Adaline’s story is really interesting and unique. Rather than go through her life chronologically, it is told mostly through flashbacks. The flashbacks are told in a documentary-like style complete with a narrator (Hugh Ross). The reason Adaline never ages is rooted in a future scientific discovery, in other words, a fictitious biological one. The whole feel of the film tries to exude Adaline’s classic look. I found the lighting to be soft; there is nothing stark and bright in it. The whole experience of the film is very much due to director Lee Toland Krieger. In another director’s hands, the film would have been a different experience.
If you have seen the film’s trailers (if you have not, skip this paragraph), you may be wondering about the “ick” factor. Over 100 years old Adaline has a relationship with a much younger man. Physically, they look similar, so unless you are constantly picturing Blake Lively as an old woman, this should not be a problem. The other possible “ick” factor might come from a past relationship alluded to with Ellis’ father, William. No, Blake Lively and Harrison Ford do not kiss. The only thing that kind of grossed me out is the fact that William and Ellis both slept with the same woman. This is some form of coincidental nepotism to weird levels.
Age of Adaline turned out to be much more entertaining and emotional than I ever thought a Blake Lively film could be. Not going to lie, I had a tear in my eye a couple of times. The film is shot and presented beautifully with some unique ways of doing so. This is not a release and forget it film. Ladies, it is pretty much fashion and hair porn throughout with Michiel Huisman and Harrison Ford as a bonus. I only wonder why this was not a Valentine’s Day release. Take it from this cynical reviewer, Age of Adaline will surprise you.
Also, be sure to check out our interview with actor Michiel Huisman.