The Age of Adaline
Posted on April 23, 2015 at 5:59 pm
Be careful what you wish for. You think it would be great to stay 29 forever? Adaline (Blake Lively) finds out that it is not great to become unstuck from time, to watch everyone you love grow old and die, to hurt those you care about because you cannot be honest about who you are. It is as though the whole world is on a conveyer belt moving everyone inexorably forward, and just one person has stepped off, rooted in one spot and left all alone. Life becomes a series of goodbyes.
Adaline made headlines as the first baby born in 1908 San Francisco. She lived a normal life, with an engineer husband and a baby girl. But her husband was killed in an accident when he was working on the Golden Gate Bridge. And then, when a very rare snowfall came to San Francisco, her car went off the road and into a pond. She was at the same time frozen and shocked by lightning. And, we are told by the narrator, as scientists will discover in 2015, the effect of these two forces on her DNA somehow stops the aging process. At first, she is able to get away with explaining that she eats right and uses a very good face cream. But as more than a decade goes by and she does not change, she begins to unsettle people and attract the attention of government investigators. So, she has to say goodbye to her now-teenage daughter and come up with a plan where she changes identities and locations every ten years, and never gets close to anyone.
Adaline is living in San Francisco as Jenny and working at a library, but is about to switch identities again and move to Oregon. She has just bought a new fake passport and drivers license and arranged for her new identity to have access to her bank account (one thing perpetual youth is very good for is accumulating capital) when she meets Ellis (Dutch “Game of Thrones” dreamboat Michiel Huisman). He is handsome, wealthy, philanthropic, nuts about her, and knows how to give swooningly romantic gifts and cook charming and delicious dinners in his aw-shucks-I’m-just-living-in-a-zillion-dollar-fixer-upper. Doesn’t Adaline have the right to take a chance on love?
She agrees to spend the weekend with Ellis’ parents for their 40th anniversary party. But as soon as they arrive, Ellis’ father, William (Harrison Ford) says “Adaline!” They were “very close” in the 1960’s. “Jenny” explains that Adaline was her mother. But William remembers Adaline too well to be fooled for long.
The script and story were both co-written by first-time screenwriter Salvador Paskowitz, whose own unconventional life was documented in Surfwise.
It has a conceptual delicacy that translates unevenly on screen, with an overly ponderous omniscient narrator and underwritten romantic scenes. But Lively gives a thoughtful, complex performance, with undertones of melancholy and a yearning for connection that struggles with her determination to stay isolated. And she looks sensational in the costumes from Angus Strathie, which show a consistency of style throughout the century that shows us how strong and determined Adaline’s well-defined persona is, despite the various aliases and disguises and changes in fashion.
The romanticism of the storyline was thrown off course for me by the idea that Adaline was involved with both father and son, even decades apart. But if that does not create too much of an ick factor, the bittersweet fantasy of eternal youth and the just-sweet fantasy of the perfect boyfriend make it work.
Parents should know that this film includes sexual references and non-explicit situations, some mature themes of loss and disappointment, and drinking.
Family discussion: What did the comet signify? If you could stay the same age forever, what age would you pick? Is there a “just-miss” in your life?
If you like this, try: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Passion of Mind,” and “Tuck Everlasting”