“She’s not capable…of change.”
Much like its main character, The Age of Adeline spends most of the time hiding what it wants to be. Is this a tale of coincidence versus fate? An exploration of the definition of age? Or just a muddled mess of every high-concept and heady cross-examining you could pull from either angle. Sadly, this gorgeously photographed and fairly well acted film falls into pointless quandary and drawn out continuities from lifeless beginnings. It can be charming and romantic, but the underlying tone is beguiling, setting up only the most naive viewers to fall down from cloud nine and be thunked by the great hammer of time’s passage and sudden love’s instant effect. These characters make sense, save for the eternal Adaline. It’s the bizarre world they inhabit that doesn’t.
Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) is just your average woman until a car accident introduces her to the fountain of youth. Stuck forever at age 29, just before the crisis of the dreaded 30’s begins, destined to watch others grow old and pass away as she remains static. It’s hard on Adaline (although I doubt many women would mind looking like her forever). She loses a husband, friends, pets, and her own daughter (Ellen Burstyn) begins to come across more like her grandmother. Every ten years she starts a new chapter, creating a new identity and beginning life from scratch. That’s because Adaline is afraid of what others will think. Why not try to share your gift? Maybe it could save the terminally ill, could potentially eradicate deadly illness. Instead it remains closeted and treated like a X-Men mutant power than the bi-product of a freak accident that it really is.
She meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman), they start a relationship, and the story comes full circle too little too late when she’s introduced to his father (Harrison Ford). I’ll just say this; the shared triangle between the three of them is a little repulsive. And I understand she looks young, but does that mean it’s not creepy for a 109 year old to be dating a man 70+ years her junior? Lively is a very underrated actress who gives an understated performance here. Few actresses have that roaring twenties kind of radiating classic beauty while also fitting into the modern world. She is good and her character isn’t. Adaline has no motive to shield herself from the world. Rather than embrace her circumstance she shuns it. Maybe she prefers to come off as an invalid. But strangely, the script also depicts her as some all-knowing genius. Yeah, she’s old, she’s had more time to learn than others. That doesn’t make her a walking talking trivia bank. Adaline has very few traits outside of hiding and an abundance of knowledge. I imagine her happily playing trivial pursuit by her lonesome, listening to records and daydreaming of the world she once fit into.
The film has brief charm, it looks good, and the performances all suffice. That being said, the story itself lacks a lot of polished technique. If you want to learn how to not use voiceovers, study this movie. They’re unevenly used, laced with pointless scientific jargon, and don’t give the film any more character. In fact it seems to take away any semblance of control Adaline might believe to have over her own life. Her existence is the result of apparent magic, or maybe even fate, yet as her story unfolds before us we never get that sense. It’s coincidence. I wish that it had been fate, that this was Adaline’s destiny, and that her character learned or changed in some way from the experience. Since we don’t know much about her before, the payoff feels cheap, drawn-out, and pretty uneventful. Had it expanded its scope and focused its narrative on her character arc coming full circle, The Age of Adaline could have been a winner. And while I didn’t dislike it all that much, I can’t say it’s any more than occasionally romantic and adequate.
“Don’t get sloppy. It’s the little things that should be wrong.”
Rating: 2.5 out of 5