(First of all, let me add that there is a minor plot-spoiler in this review, which I have left ‘til the penultimate paragraph: I point that out since I normally try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but this was a significant (but personal) contributor to the overall enjoyment of the film).
The Age of Adaline tells the bizarre and very much untrue story of Adaline Bowman (“Gossip Girl’s” Blake Lively) who after a freak and catastrophic car crash emerges with a body that never ages (and presumably as a result has immortality). “Great!…” (you might think) “…where do I sign?”. But the obvious blessings of looking in your late 20’s (and being a bit of a looker to start with) has a darker side: being regarded as a freak; being constantly pursued by ‘government men’ in dark suits wanting to prod and probe you; having to shift from place to place under multiple aliases to keep your secret; not being able to maintain a relationship for more than a year or so; and having children that call you “mom” when they look like your granny.
Having dodged the bullet of love nearly all her life, Adaline eventually succumbs to the winsome charms of Ellis Jones (great name) played by Michiel Huisman (“World War Z” and now in “Game of Thrones”).
Things come to a dramatic head when Ellis takes her home to meet his parents William and Flemming (played by Harrison Ford and Ellen Burstyn).
On the plus side, Blake Lively actually does a star turn in the film and is by far the best thing in it. With a string of past “B”-movies to her name, I would like to see her starring in a vehicle that is worthy of her talents.
It’s also great to see Harrison Ford pre- this year’s Star Wars smash, and also great to see the hard-working Ellen Burnstyn (“Interstellar”; “W”; “Same Time Next Year”) back on the screen. Also, I must call-out the impersonation talents of Anthony Ingruber, who does the best young Harrison Ford impersonation imaginable (see at 1:26 in the trailer below): if they ever wanted to remake “Hanover Street”, the first call should go out to Anthony!
Whilst the undemanding love story that weaves its way through the film will appeal to a Sunday-afternoon audience that wants to curl up on a sofa and watch a ‘slushy DVD’ on a rainy day, this is fundamentally a very silly story, laced as it is with cod-science and coincidence…. although I guess this is no more so than similar films such as “Forever Young”, “The Time Traveller’s Wife” or “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. You actually have to admire the cojones of the screenwriters (J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz) for the ‘science’ behind the key event: basically they say “don’t worry about how this happened, because the reason behind it won’t be discovered for another 20 years”! (i.e. “YOUR NOT QUALIFIED DEAR!!”).
Where I have more objection with the film is in its sonorous and self-important narration, of the “Desperate Housewives” variety, which drones on and on at you when pictorial hints and clues would have provided more than enough to allow the intelligent viewer to pin the story together themselves. The narration blissfully disappears through all the middle part of the film, but then pops up again at the end (I audibly groaned in my seat) to destroy the mood.
In many places the story is paint-by-numbers stuff, and you just KNOW what’s going to happen way before it actually does. Whilst I have to admit that a key meeting in the film was well done and generated goose-bumps when it happened, elsewhere there is a mass of unnecessary exposition that obstructs and frustrates. (The director (Lee Toland Krieger) really needed to credit his audience with a bit more intelligence).
Having suspended your belief once with the car crash at the beginning of the film, it is again called on (in spades) for the finale to allow the story to be rounded out. (No spoilers, but I would have preferred to flash forwards 300 years to see Adaline as a crazy-eyed 20-something woman in a mental institution: but then, I am just a heartless brute!).
And so to that *spoiler*, which might not affect everyone but left my wife distraught for most of the second half of the film. If you had a Cavalier King Charles (as Adaline does) and if it had trouble eating (due to kidney failure) and if you had to then take it on a ‘last trip’ to the vet, then let’s just say that this is perhaps not the film for you!
In summary, an undemanding love story if you can suspend your disbelief sufficiently: personal canine trauma aside, if you liked “The Time Traveller’s Wife” you will probably warm to this.
Fad Rating: FFF.