The Age of Adaline follows the life of Adaline Bowman, (Blake Lively) a woman, who after a freak accident, stops aging at 29. The film, directed by Lee Toland Krieger off an original story by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz, explores Adaline's relationships with her daughter (Ellen Burstyn) and various lovers during her (virtually) immortal life.
Set mostly in present day San Francisco, Adaline eventually becomes involved with a philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michael Huisman). Sharing a love for history combined with Ellis' incessant pestering, they eventually become romantically linked.
Although on the surface, Age of Adaline could be a very melodramatic romantic story, the performances of the actors elevate the material that engrosses you from the very start. Although romance is definitely woven throughout, the film is more about Adaline's struggle to find her identity in addition to coping with the fact that her daughter looks 40 years older than her. Apart from her relationship with her daughter, Adaline's other relationships are sporadic and rarely fruitful. Lively perfectly portrays a person who is afraid to become to attached to another person. By contrast, Huisman plays the optimistic, carefree, and somewhat juvenile Ellis very well.
Although appearing in just the latter half of the film, Harrison Ford puts in one of the best performances of his entire career. Although revealing the nature of his character would spoil the film's main twist, what can be said is that Ford shows his largely underutilized range as a dramatic actor. His chemistry with Lively is exceptional and Ford is able to use just the look on his eyes to show the pain, weariness, and compassion in his character.
The film looks gorgeous – a debt to cinematographer David Lanzenburg, jumping from the roaring 20s, to the 50s, to present day with each period looking distinct and authentic. The production design, costuming, and hair and makeup are all exceptional.
What may get some hung up on the premise of Age of Adaline is its largely mumbo-jumbo sci-fi nature. But once bought into the premise that Adaline can't age, rather than the device that creates the premise, the film pays off emotionally.
There are some sequences which are predictable in plot and an intrusive voice-over by an omniscient narrator definitely could have been cut out, but these are minor flaws when compared to the film's direction, filming quality, and performances.
Despite its premise bordering on absurdity, Age of Adaline is an intriguing look at sacrifice, mortality, relationships, and accepting ourselves and the blessings (even if they are few) that we experience throughout our lifetimes.Our Rating: Rent