Anytime a movie employs a gimmick, as The Age of Adaline clearly does, it can be either good or bad. Sometimes the filmmakers will use the gimmick to cover up a lack of story and make the narrative appear stronger than it actually is. On the other hand, sometimes a gimmick can be used to enhance a story. This movie falls into the second category. There is more to this film than the obvious gimmick, and that is a good thing.
This is a hard film to summarize because, unlike the trailers for it, I don’t want to give away too much. The bottom line is that, in the 1930’s, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) had a car accident at 29 years old that caused her to stop aging. The clever part about this is that her condition was apparently caused by a scientific phenomenon that has not been discovered yet, which eliminates the need for the film to actually explain it. Everything that happens after that should probably remain a mystery.
Blake Lively is absolutely terrific in this movie. I was not expecting this caliber of a performance from her. She does a great job of making the audience believe that she is a person who has been alive all these years. Her accent and dialect are a little strange, which would be the case if she were really over 100 years old. She makes a point of always keeping a very low profile for fear that somebody will figure her out. Lively’s performance in a pretty tough role is remarkable and, in itself, is a reason to watch the film. Harrison Ford is in this movie and great as always. He adds a much needed degree of humor at certain points. His scenes with Blake Lively toward the end are probably the best in the film.
I really hated the main guy character in this movie. I don’t think it was the actor (Michiel Huisman) as much as the way the character was written. He was a very stereotypical, perfect leading man in a romance movie type. He reads poetry, donates to all kinds of charity, the usual thing. I felt like this film was above that. Also, because of how the story develops, they really didn’t need all that to explain why Adaline is so attracted to him.
The dialogue in the film is very hit or miss. Some of it is very clever. For instance, in one scene, Adaline is looking at pictures of herself in a photo album. She says, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”, which is funny because she always looks the same. This is something subtle that seems natural for her to say. The majority of the dialogue is way too obvious. It’s like they think the audience is going to forget about Adaline’s condition so they need to be reminded every two or three minutes through some type of awkward dialogue exchange.
I thought this was a really good story. That being said, there are some stupid things that happen in the film that detracts from it. For instance, I don’t ever remember seeing lightning and snow at the same time before. There is one scene early in the film where Adaline escapes, far too easily, from FBI custody. They almost had a very good twist in the film but it was completely spoiled by the trailer. Also, one unnecessary element of the twist made it far too coincidental for me to buy. None of these things, however, can even compare to the ridiculousness that is the ending of this film. Most of the movie goes to great lengths to be realistic and believable. It is unfortunate that they decided to go with an ending that seemed ripped right out of a Disney fairytale.
This movie is perfectly watchable, the problem is that it could have been much more than that with only a few minor changes. I enjoyed the majority of it and wouldn’t mind seeing it again. The only thing spectacular about the film is the performance of Blake Lively but it is generally well made and worth seeing. The Movie Man gives it 3 out of 5 stars.
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