“The Age of Adaline” sincerely believes in its preposterous premise, and it softly and somberly glides along its romance plot as its two good-looking characters adorably looking at each other. This is indeed a sappy stuff, but then there are warm, bright sparks between our lovely couple, and there are also some nice moments of genuine emotions in the film. Although it could have delved deeper into the human dilemmas inherent inside its premise, this is a solid standard comfort food for its target audiences, and you may forgive its flaws as enjoying its tender, sensitive scenes.
As our omniscient narrator tells us at the beginning, Adaline Bowan (Blake Lively) lived throughout the 20th century while never getting old at all. Born on New Year’s Day in 1908, she went through her early years as a normal girl living in San Francisco, and then she fell in love with a young engineer. They soon married, but, not long after the birth of their daughter, her husband got killed along with several others due to an unfortunate accident during the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.
And then something happened when she was recovering from this devastating personal loss. While she was driving to her parents’ place alone during one exceptionally cold, snowy night, she had a car accident, and she was flung into a cold river along with her vehicle. As her body function was about to be shut down due to low body temperature and slowing heartbeat rate, a lightening suddenly stroke into the river, and that caused a significant biochemical change inside her body, which certainly would make my molecular biologist colleagues roll their eyes for its utter baloney.
Anyway, after this incident of miraculous survival, Adaline slowly began to realize how things became different for her. She kept looking unbelievably young even after her daughter became old enough to go to college. When she realized how this could be a big trouble for her as well as her daughter, she began to live alone, and she has constantly changed her identity and residence throughout many years for hiding her secret from others (she was almost captured to be tested and studied at one point, by the way).
So far, her long life has been fairly good. Thanks to her wise investment in a certain famous company during its early years, she always has enough money to buy another place and identity for her, and she has maintained a sparse but loving relationship with her aging but spirited daughter. Ellen Burstyn, a great actress who has lost none of her energy and intelligence even during her later years, has a little fun with behaving like a mommy’s little girl during her scenes with Lively, and we cannot help but amused and touched by their characters’ affectionate interactions.
As 2015 is approaching, Adaline decides that it is time to leave behind her current life as a librarian named Jenny Larson in San Francisco, but then she happens to have a Meet Cute moment with a guy named Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) at the New Year’s Eve party. She does not expect to meet him again, but, what do you know, she encounters him again when it turns out that he is a new board member of her public library who also makes a considerable donation to the library (According to him, he got his fortune thanks to his software for stock market, which seemed to make him as wealthy as Steve Wozniak, if not Steve Jobs).
While Ellis becomes more fascinated with her for many reasons, Adaline also becomes attracted to this handsome gentle lad, but she is naturally conflicted about whether she can share her lifelong secret with him – or whether it is possible to have a life with him. Because she still remembers well one old painful moment involved with a young man who really loved her, she initially wants to terminate her relationship with Ellis, but she eventually comes to have a second thought. While she is not wholly convincing as an old soul trapped inside her young boy, Blake Lively has a warm low-key chemistry with her co-actor Michiel Huisman, a Dutch actor who was quite believable as one of the New Orleans residents in HBO TV series “Treme” (but most of you are more familiar with his supporting character in another HBO TV series “Game of Thrones”). There is a tender scene where Adaline takes Ellis to an old abandoned place unknown to many people in San Francisco, and the director Lee Toland Krieger gives us a wonderful magical moment when she reveals its small surprise to him.
The screenplay by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz stumbles especially during the third act which resolves its main conflict too conveniently, but Lively, Huisman, and the other good actors surrounding them support well its shaky narrative. Harrison Ford is particularly poignant in his supporting role, and Kathy Baker also holds her own place although her character is underdeveloped in comparison. Like Burstyn, Ford and Baker bring natural qualities to their characters as old, experienced veteran performers, and their characters come to us as engaging people to watch.
“The Age of Adaline” is not entirely successful, but I mildly recommend it because I enjoyed its mood and performances even while recognizing its preposterous sides. Some of us may desire for immortality, but immortality is a dreadful concept when you think more about it. I may be happy to be allowed to read books and watch movies as much as I want during endless years, but then I will be quite lonely as constantly watching others around me going away from myself forever. Considering that I am a guy with autistic personality, I may be able to handle that problem, but, still, death is a more preferable option to me.