Kyle J. Steenblik

The Age of Adaline was Charming

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3 1/2 stars out of 5The Age of Adaline
Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
adalineWritten by: J. Mills Goodloe, Salvador Paskowitz
Starring: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Kathy Baker, Amanda Crew, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn
Release date: April 24, 2015
Running time: 110 minutes
Rated PG-13 for for a suggestive comment

The Age of Adaline was really quite charming.  The performances were good, Harrison Ford in particular was terrific, although is appearance is brief.  There were some clunky moments, and elements that could have used some additional exposition, but otherwise the story was solid.  Slow was the first word that came to mind as I was watching The Age of Adaline, but that word was immediately dismissed because it did not fit.  The film progressed at a leisurely and steady pace.  I cannot help but think this deliberate pacing was intended to add to the tone, and somewhat ageless feel of the film.  This film could have easily fallen into the trap of stagnating and fixating on a melodramatic romantic relationship, but they kept those elements in check not allowing the intertwined relationships to overrun the film.  All this restraint gave a weight to the film that proved effective in conveying the weight of history that Adaline felt.

Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) was born in 1908; in 1935, Adeline’s car plunged into a Sonoma County river, during a rare snowstorm, where her car was struck by lightning.  The effect of this left Adaline Bowman immune to the ravages of time.  Or so the voiceover man tells us.  Over time, people began to notice she did not appear to age, at first she was able to attribute this to diet and exercise but when her condition began attracting unwanted attention she was force to abandon her daughter and go into hiding.  To keep her secret hidden she moves and changes her identity every ten years, keeping in contact with only one person, her daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn).  Now in 2014 Adeline’s chance meeting of Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) has her questioning her solitary life.  Things become complicated when Ellis takes Adaline to meet his parents William (Harrison Ford) and Connie (Kathy Baker) on their 40th wedding anniversary, and William recognizes Adaline as a woman he loved nearly 50 years ago.

Blake Lively carried her character well, and was appropriately reserved and astute.  Michael Huisman was charismatic and interesting, if not a little one-dimensional.  Harrison Ford’s performance by far was the highlight of the film for me.  It may be one of his strongest performances, or at least in recent memory.  In particular, he had a series of reactions that were so visceral an audience member would have to be emotionally dead to be unmoved.

I mentioned some “clunky” elements previously, to expand on that, I am referring to the opening, and closing voiceover.  While I do not, as a general rule, have a problem with voiceover to offer introductory exposition.  There was not a problem with the voiceover here, but it seemed almost out of place.  It was not any of the main cast of characters offering narration, in fact we never find out who is telling this story, not that it really matters in the end.  It was odd, and felt a little out of place, but not so much that it detracts from the film, but it does briefly distract at the end.

Overall, this is one of the best modern romance films I have seen.  In part due to the interesting story, and moderately complex characters, but mostly because the romantic overtones were a natural side effect of the main plot, giving the larger than life story, life.

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