Blake Lively, Harrison Ford deliver strong performances in Lee Toland Krieger’s unlikely romance, The Age of Adaline.
I don’t consider myself a romantic, or fan of much of what comes out of the romance genre, but found myself pleasantly surprised by The Age of Adaline — a dramatic romantic fantasy with the hard-to-buy premise of a woman who stops aging at 29, after a preposterous series of events — and I genuinely got sucked into it all. Adaline is the story of young widow, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) who crashes her car on a rare snowy evening in the Bay Area. An unseen narrator details the event that includes drowning and a lightning strike, which throw her genetic make-up all out of whack and freezing her in time indefinitely.
Over time, Adaline draws suspicion as those she knows can’t help but notice she looks the same year after year, especially in contrast to her daughter, Flemming, who ages at a normal rate. Adaline takes to reinventing herself every few years to keep suspicions at bay, taking on new identities, all the while denying herself an intimate relationship with anyone. What’s the point of having a relationship if you can’t grow old with your partner, right? The true struggle of immortality.
Flash forward to the present day. Adaline — who currently goes by Jenny, works as a library employee in San Francisco, and lives with her dog — meets a dashing and persistent philanthropist named Ellis (played by the easy-on-the-eyes, Michel Huisman) who proceeds to sweep her off her feet, in spite of her best efforts to not allow it. With some convincing from her now geriatric and retirement-home bound daughter (and the only human who knows her secret) that she must in fact live and love, Adaline embarks on a romance with Ellis that leads to her going home with him for his parents’ anniversary celebration, where things get awkward. Upon arriving at the parents’ home Adaline and Ellis’ father (with a star performance by Harrison Ford) lock eyes and it is revealed that Adaline is a significant figure from his past. Obviously, some drama ensues.
Where the film lacks in depth, particularly with Adaline’s character development and back story — anyone who has been 29 for seven or eight decades must have a few wild stories to tell, right? — It makes up for with its cast. Blake Lively truly brings Adaline to life; impeccably convincing the audience she is an old soul by way of her speech and mannerisms. Particular praise must be given to the scenes between Lively and Ellen Burstyn, who plays her elderly daughter — they capture the mother-daughter dynamic with surprising accuracy. I also have great appreciation for Adaline and Ellis’ romance, genuine chemistry between the two. In spite of having what on the surface sounds like an off-the-wall story line, give into it. Don’t try to wrap your head around the plausibility of it all — it’s fiction; just enjoy the ride.