The Age of Adaline
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
Starring Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford
Blake Lively is known to our generation for her glamorous role in the TV show Gossip Girl. Though the show has since ended its six-season run, Lively’s style and smile have found their way back to the screen in the movie The Age of Adaline.
Lively plays the role of Adaline Bowman, a 29-year old woman who has been stuck at the same age for almost 80 years ever since a car accident left her unable to feel the effects of time. As the rest of the world ages, Adaline’s body does not. Anytime someone gets too close to her, Adaline runs away to a new city, afraid of falling in love with someone who will grow old without her. When she meets a man named Ellis (Michiel Huisman), however, Adaline tries to stop running but stumbles over the strange complications that develop from her secret.
Providing a glimpse into Adaline’s past struggles to conceal her agelessness, flashback scenes depict Adaline during different decades of the 20th century as she avoids photographs that might someday provide evidence of her condition. The scenes have a vintage-quality sepia tint, with Adaline sporting period hair and makeup to match. Personally, I found the entire concept of agelessness difficult to acknowledge, especially during an awkward scene where “29-year-old” Adaline eats lunch with her elderly daughter, played by 83-year-old Ellen Burstyn. Instead of experiencing a touching moment between an ageless mother and her aging daughter, I was distracted by the blatant 50 year age difference between the two actresses. Lively does her best to embody a wise, 107-year-old trapped in a 29-year-old body, but it just comes off as Lively trying too hard to sound mature.
The film takes its time getting to the heart of the plot, filling the first half hour of the film with scenes like those to build up Adaline’s world. Comments about her ageless condition seemed forced, and — unlike Adaline — they grew old after a while. Furthermore, while we all know that Blake Lively is flawless in looks and style, the endless beauty shots of her slowly sauntering along in a backless evening gown only dragged out the movie.
Though it took a while, I eventually managed to suspend my disbelief regarding this idea of an ageless woman. The film builds some substance during the developing romance between Adaline and Ellis, which later takes over the plot. But, of course, it naturally gets complicated by the fact that Adaline is actually 107-years-old. After Ellis’s father (Harrison Ford) is introduced, the film finally finds some depth and suspense through Ford’s emotional performance, but it unfortunately does not make up for the stagnant first half of the film.
The movie plays with the interesting concept of eternal youth, but it fails to present the idea convincingly. If Adaline’s agelessness were portrayed more believably, my empathy for Adaline’s condition would have doubled.