Movie Review: The Age of Adaline

In “The Age of Adaline,” Blake Lively (looking as if she hasn’t aged too noticeably from her early episodes of “Gossip Girl”) plays the eponymous Adaline, an American woman who was born in 1908, and due to a car accident that plunged her into hypothermia-inducing water, has somehow managed to become immortal, frozen forever at age 29. She avoids too close scrutiny of her eternal youth, until the FBI notices. forcing her to flee the sterile confines of suburbia. After that, she leads a nomadic lifestyle (funded by early investment in something called Xerox), changing her name, never revealing too much about herself to those around her, and if someone does take too close an interest (read, someone of the opposite sex), she flees.

When the movie opens, she’s living in San Francisco, a single woman with a dog and best friend whose blindness conveniently permits Blake to pass as elderly, too. She has a job in a library, which gives her opportunities to organize archival video footage and have flashbacks to acquaint the audience with her backstory. But she does not yet have a boyfriend, which needless to say, must be remedied in Movieland at once. (Really, is there anything sadder than a gorgeous young woman calling out, “Honey, I’m home,” and only having a little dog come running to greet her?)

Enter Ellis (Michiel Huisman), who has made his fortune by inventing an app with a college roommate, and now wishes to bestow a financial gift on the library – but after seeing Blake, he decides to woo her. Blake isn’t too thrilled about the prospect of having a man uncover her past, but she becomes charmed when Michiel takes her not to a café or a cinema, but into the bowels of San Francisco itself. She reciprocates by showing him an abandoned indoor drive-in, and it is clearly a match made in heaven – until Michiel brings Blake home to meet his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker). Suddenly, Michiel’s dad is ogling Blake in a most un-future-father-in-law way. No, he’s not a pervert, it just turns out that Harrison had a brief but unforgettable affair with Blake years ago when she was studying abroad in England, and he can’t get over the resemblance. Blake handles this by claiming that “Adaline” is her mother, but eventually, the truth comes out. Poor Kathy, the one character in the movie I felt sorry for, is more than a little put out to discover that her husband’s affair affected him more than he’s ever let on, but things wind up working out between her and Harrison eventually.

Fortunately – spoiler alert! – Blake has another car accident, which coincides with a meteor predicted by Young Harrison, which somehow returns her to her mortal self. Science is not this movie’s strong suit – at least, I’m going to assume that meteors have very little relationship to correcting an aging process that’s somehow been static for close to a century – but we get the explanations in a nice grave narrator voice which helps makes them sound convincing – at least when you’re watching the movie.

This movie is like store bought dessert – undeniably sweet and will do in a pinch if you’re looking for something pleasant to occupy yourself with, but improvements to the recipe can definitely be made.  While movies like “Forrest Gump,” place their hero squarely in the middle of history’s upheaval, “The Age of Adaline,” mostly avoids political content, and pretty much any historical content that could be considered controversial, which was an unfortunate decision.  I found myself nodding off more than once in the theater, when I wasn’t thinking of alternative ways to handle the material.  For example, Blake has a huge aversion to being photographed – wouldn’t this be an opportunity to comment on present day social media culture?  But mostly, the focus is on the personal.  This makes it, as I said, sweet, but ultimately forgettable.


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