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Review: The Age of Adaline

The Age of Adaline
04.23.2015
6 10

PLOT: Following a freak accident, a young widow named Adaline (Blake Lively) stops aging, to the point that when she’s a 107-year-old woman, she still looks twenty-nine. Not wanting to become an object of study, Adaline starts changing her identity every decade, until a chance encounter with a young man (Michiel Huisman) makes her want to stop running.

REVIEW: Ever notice that whenever Hollywood makes a movie about immortals, they tend to be rather exceptionally good looking, even by Hollywood standards? As such, Blake Lively is probably an inspired choice to lead THE AGE OF ADALINE, which is probably the first real test of her Hollywood leading-lady mettle, with previous roles (from THE TOWN to GREEN LANTERN) usually casting her in supporting parts.

Lively’s actually quite good which is saying something as Adaline’s not an easy part. For one thing, it’s a fine line for any performer to walk when appearing in this kind of melodrama, as one too many bits of schmaltz could have turned ADALINE into a Nicholas Sparks joint. While never recognized as a really top-tier actress (GREEN LANTERN certainly did her no favors) Lively’s able to convey the fact that Adaline is a woman from another time, refraining from making her too modern. From the way she dresses to the slightly clipped way she speaks, Adaline does indeed seem like someone ill-at-ease in a young woman’s body in the 21st century, with her having spent over close to eighty years walking the earth without aging a day.

Typically for this kind of tale, immortality is shown to be a curse with Adaline having to face the fact that anyone she grows close to will inevitably die, giving her a certain pathos. One of the nicer parts of the film is Lively’s interaction with Ellen Burstyn, who plays her aged daughter. This is the second time in six months Burstyn’s played a character who winds up growing physically older than a parent (see INTERSTELLAR) and her and Lively are able to maintain a certain dynamic that doesn’t make scenes where Lively acts like Burstyn’s mother laughable. This is no small feat.

In fact, I’d wager that AGE OF ADALINE is one of the more successful romantic melodramas I’ve seen in a while, although to be sure Hollywood hasn’t set the bar too high. The only real downside is the A-story, where Adaline falls for a handsome young philanthropist (Michiel Huisman – the latest Game of Thrones actor to land a feature). Huisman is good but there’s nothing exceptional about the character that would make us think that after spending most of the century alone, and presumably being a constant figure of desire that he would be the one she’d fall for. Sure, he’s got a six pack and a coiffed beard, but the character comes off as bland.

In fact, there’s more chemistry between Lively and Harrison Ford, who plays Huisman’s father, and – as it turns out – was the only other man Adaline ever allowed herself to love. While it’s strange to see Ford – for maybe the first time – play a character that’s his own age, he’s rarely been so vulnerable and he has a number of touching scenes with Lively, who’s the one that got away. The only downside is that the flashbacks are a bit off-putting, with the actor playing the younger version of Ford maybe trying a bit too hard to impersonate Ford circa AMERICAN GRAFFITI (maybe unavoidable given his icon status).  

While it’s not perfect, AGE OF ADALINE is nonetheless a surprisingly solid melodrama, well-directed by CELESTE & JESSE FOREVER’s Lee Toland Krieger. Lively really is the whole show here, and she carries the film very well. She really is an extraordinary beauty (there were audible gasps whenever she donned evening wear) but she’s also able to convey a degree of world-weariness that suits the character and gives the film the extra push it needs. Chalk this one up as a pleasant surprise.

 
Source: JoBlo.com

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