Film Review: The Age Of Adaline

The Age Of Adaline has skirted my life ever since its initial release. I have never felt really drawn to watch it, coming close once only for illness to dictate otherwise, but in my mind it’s always been a “take it or leave it” type of film. A rainy day affair which would fail to excite or disappoint in equal measure, leaving you nonplussed and the critics lukewarm in their simplistic praise.

My mother, however, felt differently, and while slightly shy, obviously wanted to see it. It’s fair to say she was drawn to it more than I, and almost seemed disappointed when I told her it had finished it’s big screen run. So when my local independent cinema put on a single showing, at the same time as my Father’s birthday, it seemed a good idea to have a celebratory family night out and allow my mother to be happily disappointed. Or so I thought.

 Disney Fairytale (Cinderella) - The Age Of Adaline

As I said I wasn’t gripped by the idea of the film, I’d seen the trailer on and off without memory and understood the outline synopsis but wasn’t moved to really investigate it further and so, didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know the tone or seriousness of the piece; so, when the opening scenes rolled and I was met by a voice over speech that felt like an audition for a Disney fantasy or fairytale I started to fear the worse.

I didn’t need to worry too much though because as soon the opening narration was over the actual film matures in age, so much so that it just heightens how out of place the voice over accent felt. While this sudden visual maturity felt inviting it meant that I started to judge the film through more probing eyes. It talks to you like an adult and so you respond as one. You look into it’s story, you search for depth and meaning in what it says and sadly, as soon as you do everything starts to fall apart.

The films portrayal of time is so shallow and unfathomable that it completely perplexed me. I’m still not sure how old Adaline really is, was or how she was meant, or not, to age. The film simply states that “Adaline can no longer age” and then turns it back on that rather important point, covering it’s tracks with some complicated sounding science but it’s almost refusal to expand it beyond “it just happens ok” left me wondering how everything fitted together. Was Adaline now immortal? Did her inner body age even if her outer appearance didn’t? How is her health affected?

And this uncertainly bleaches out into the rest of the story. Time needed more clarity because the way they describe it just left me unable to fully trust the film. Ignoring the lack of ageing I just felt that everything else in the story around Adaline felt unrealistic. For instance, they portray her as being a genius because she’s had so long to learn and live through these experiences, but she’s meant to 88, that’s just a normal life, that doesn’t instantly mean you’ve learnt 5 languages or lived all over the world and experienced every major world event first hand. She’s just too perfectly implausible to be believable. It feels written to enchant the story and nothing more.

Michiel Huisman & Blake Lively - The Age Of Adaline

And that is such a shame because Blake Lively brings Adaline to life in such a charming and inviting way that I loved spending time around her. She just seems a very nice person. Her personality, her sense of humour, her view on life is instantly inviting and warm. She epitomises the perfect stereotype. And that just makes you want to be near her. Even worse than the flawless Lively is Michiel Huisman as Ellis. He echoes Lively’s flawlessness and as a result they just look too good together. She’s the stunning beauty, he’s the just impossible handsome man. They look made for each other and I should hate them for it, but I don’t and I can’t because there is nothing wrong with them.

However, I can find one issue with their relationship, and it’s an ethical one. Because I never felt certain in how Adaline aged, when she started to seduce and love Ellis I just wasn’t sure whether I was being treated to an consenting relationship of late twenties, or a hidden lie of grandparent cougarism. Was this an 88 sleeping with a 28 year old or not? And this sense of complete unease towards the deeper points of the film meant that when Harrison Ford arrived as Ellis father (and Adaline’s previous flame many years removed) that all I could see was a love triangle of deceit that left me withdrawing mentally from the film out of clichéd disgust.

Blake Lively with Puppy Dog - The Age Of Adaline

I think my problem though is that I’m not sure you’re meant to look that deeply into the plot, or ask probing scientific questions of it. Or question it’s ethics. I think it’s meant to be a superficial story about true love, and that you shouldn’t look beyond what is presented first. But even then it feels out of step. For instance, the film sets up Adaline as being able to move away, she turns down Ellis because she’s about to leave town yet never does. Implying her departure is only hours away, and then days pass with her apparent migration put on hold, seemingly without worry. And this lack of worry falls through into her character as a whole. For somebody who has become a scientific anomaly, and who is going on the run to protect her independence, she just nonchalantly lives her life care free, occasionally hinting at the stress and panic of constantly looking over her shoulder, before walking to work, never paying a cab and feeding her dog. Her live just looks too easy for the wondrous problem she’s meant to have.

I feel I should finish this off by saying how I hated The Age Of Adaline and how it’s an cheesy, implausible story told through overly impossible characters. But I can’t. Because I didn’t. I fell completely into it and got lost in the stupidity of it all. The problems are there, easy to spot and when analysed turn the film into a mess of superficial ideas; but that doesn’t matter because at it’s heart is a simple love story between two characters that however unrealistic I like. The Age Of Adaline is nothing more than throw away fun that leaves you feeling happy once you’ve left your brain at the door.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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