The Age of Adaline Review
Not to be confused as an odd spin-off of Age of Ultron, this is a Nicholas Sparksian romantic drama starring Blake Lively as the titular Adaline, a woman born at the turn of the 20th century rendered ageless after a strange accident. She moves from place to place every ten years to escape the painful tangles of relationships until one New Year’s Eve when she meets Ellis (Michael Huisman), who complicates her life even further.
Yes, there is a little whiff of the ‘woman saved by man’ trope, but unlike similar films such as If I Stay (like-minded plot about a young woman cut off from society who finds salvation in the arms of a hunky boyfriend), it’s a little more earnest and has none of the vanity or crooning boy-meets-girl vibes you’d expect. The premise (while ridiculous) takes the vampire route, where never aging is a curse rather than a blessing, as you have to watch your loved ones die around you and have to avoid becoming a scientific curiosity. The former issue is very well addressed with Adaline’s daughter, who ages before her mother's eyes, given form by Ellen Burstyn somewhat reprising her role from Interstellar with similar emotional impact.
While Lively herself is engaging enough (though her love interest is a bit dull), the real star of the film is Harrison Ford, who has never been better as an old flame of Adaline’s from the 1960’s who – by a slightly silly plot contrivance – runs into her again in the modern day. For what is ultimately such an inconsequential story, a surprising level of investment is displayed, mostly thanks to Ford’s performance, which almost had yours truly reaching for the tissues.
The Age of Adaline does come packaged with a little Benjamin Button-syndrome: the syrupy voiceover is completely unnecessary and, if anything, only serves to muddle the already higgledy-piggledy narrative yet further. And for the scientists among you, get ready to plug your ears and warble very loudly while Hugh Ross’s sugared tones explain how it is that our heroine never ages. On the languid running time, just insert your own joke about time stopping for Adaline but dragging for the rest of us, as several critics have already done.
It’s clear a lot of people will be put off by the jumbled narrative and lack of explanation for certain aspects of the plot, but The Age of Adaline is a perfectly serviceable and occasionally charming drama with characters who are engaging, vigorous direction, and goes straight from point A to point B without getting too self-important along the way.