Blake Lively gives one of her best performances, as a 107-year-old stuck at 29.
Mortality is something all people must come to terms with and thus has become a common theme in much of entertainment. From comic books to film, many a fictional character has been immortal, embodying mankind's ultimate wish. The Age of Adaline takes a different approach, coming at it with a romanticized approach that makes it a bit difficult to take seriously.
Purchasing fake IDs at an apartment in San Francisco, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) doesn't look a day over thirty but is actually 107 years old. Because of this, when she is assigned the task of sorting through film reels in the library's office of archives where she works, she becomes emotional and reflects on the past. Born on New Year's Day in 1908, she was once married but soon after having a daughter became widowed. One night, while driving to her parents' house, snow miraculously began to fall, leading her to suffer a car crash.
Plunged into freezing waters, Adaline's heart stopped, and she died. A lightning strike brought her back to life but stopped her aging, leaving her 29 forever. At first, she managed to write off her lack of aging, but as her daughter grew older, and people confused them for sisters, it became too difficult to hide. One day, a cop pulled her over and took away her ID, suspicious that it said that she was in her late forties. Shortly after, two FBI agents intercepted her on the way home, presumably to study her, but she escaped. She's been on the run since then, changing her identity and moving before anyone grows too suspicious.
In the present, Adaline is preparing to run again, this time moving to Oregon, hence the new identity. Before she leaves though, she attends a party on New Year's Eve with a friend, and as she leaves, she meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman). They share a connection, but with her plans to leave soon, she brushes him off. The next day at work, her coworkers say that a donation of books has arrived, and the benefactor himself, Ellis, has delivered them. Ellis presses her to go on a date with him, even saying he'll withdraw his donation, and Adaline agrees.
From beginning to end, The Age of Adaline is a romantic fantasy. From the soft and sweet cinematography (complete with warm light and plenty of bokeh) to the pseudo-scientific narration, everything comes together to set an obviously romantic, almost silly tone. Even though it's heavy handed, it all works because The Age of Adaline isn't pretending to be anything other than what it is. It may be contemplating mortality, but that is definitely on the sidelines of the love and family drama, which follows quite the predictable path.
While the tone of the film is over the top, and the story is admittedly preposterous in many moments, what makes the film so enjoyable is the performance by Blake Lively. Lively plays an old woman trapped in a young woman's body, a feat unto itself. From the distinctive way that she carries herself to the small smile she gives everyone, she surprisingly makes Adaline seem real. Opposite Harrison Ford, whose performance is undoubtedly a career best despite his late entrance in the story, she holds her own and actually impresses. The Age of Adaline may have a bit too much fun with the pixie dust of romance, but it's the stellar cast that makes it work.
Images courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment.