Soft and mushy, nearly everything in The Age of Adaline stands in stark contrast to the crisp performance given by Blake Lively, who plays the movie’s title character, a woman who stops aging at 29.
This situation — let’s call it an “age freeze” — arises after Lively’s Adaline runs her car off the road during a rare California snow storm. With help from lightning, water and a half-baked explanation from an off-screen narrator, Adaline is reborn as a person who’ll never see 30.
PG-13 for a suggestive comment
For 27 years, Robert Denerstein was the film critic at The Rocky Mountain News. Read more of Robert's reviews at Denerstein Unleashed.
Age of Adaline is an adult fairy tale, but the movie winds up avoiding its more perplexing aspects, apparently so that it can turn out a conventional romance mixed with a bit of cheerleading about embracing life’s greatest possibility; i.e., love.
Obviously, a woman who’s never going to age must be wary about her choices. If Adaline falls in love and commits to a relationship, she’s going to watch her beloved age and die.
Aside from a series of cute puppies, Adaline studiously avoids involvement. Whenever she thinks someone might recognize her from a past encounter, she bolts. And she always changes her identity once a decade, switching residences and taking on a new name. Adaline does, however, have a daughter from before the life-changing auto accident.
Director Lee Toland Krieger better hope that audiences fall in love with Lively because there’s not a whole lot more to enjoy in a movie that eventually finds a wary Adaline establishing a relationship with Ellis, (Michiel Huisman), a wealthy San Francisco-based philanthropist who made his fortune in the high-tech world.
Of course, the relationship can’t progress because Adaline refuses to tell Ellis (or anyone else for that matter) that she’s approaching 107. Only her daughter — now an aging woman played by Ellen Burstyn — knows the truth about Adaline. Adaline works hard to keep it that way.
About midway through, Ellis takes Adeline to meet his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker), where additional complications ensue.
The movie arrives wrapped in the gauze of a sentimental story that wants to reach a destination that was predictable from the moment Adaline and Ellis first exchanged looks across a crowded room.
Ford looks professorial and unheroic, which is of some interest, and Lively certainly holds the screen for the movie’s 110-minute length.
Burstyn has a nice cameo as Adaline’s daughter, a woman who’s now old enough to enter a retirement community. The movie’s mother and daughter exchanges are odd but convincing — and something the movie could have used more of.
The Age of Adaline needed to get the stars out of its eyes, and wake up to what it actually might be saying, as opposed to the message it does deliver, which is: Wake up and embrace life. Take a chance.
If you follow this advice, let me know how it works out for you. I’ll be sitting in the safety of my room waiting to hear.