This intriguing romance-tinted drama has a heartwarming underbelly that always keeps it the right side of watchable – despite its sometimes melancholic overtones.
Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively – who recovered from the disastrous Green Lantern to show promise in Oliver Stone’s Savages – puts in a nicely understated performance as saddened lead character Adaline Bowman, with a story that at least mixes it up in the usually stereotypical age-defying/time travelling ‘love story’ sub-genre.
This sentimental flick has its feet firmly rooted in the former part of that category, with 1908-born Adaline perpetually remaining 29-years-old due to a freak accident – which has left her moving around the States and avoiding love for the best part of eight decades.
The aforementioned incident took place shortly after the death of Adaline’s husband (who died when the Golden Gate bridge was being constructed in San Francisco) on her way to visit their young daughter Flemming, and saw her heart stop beating in an ice cold stream after a car accident – then before death consumed her was brought back to life by a lightning strike on the water.
This extraordinary event has left Adaline living a solitary life – apart from occasional contact with her now elderly daughter (Oscar-winner Ellen Burstyn, last seen in Interstellar) – after escaping the grasp of the FBI, who wanted to run tests on her, and never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret, which never sees her age a day.
But with her daughter wanting her mum to change her life of solitude and seek love, a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Nashville’s Michiel Huisman) sees Adaline begrudingly soften her stance – as her passion for life and romance is reignited.
What takes the movie (slightly) above the oodles of similar romances isn’t just the amiable coupling of Lively/Huisman – who you find yourself rooting for – but the cameo turn from Burstyn, and particularly the supporting role of Harrison Ford as Ellis’ Dad, William, in the film’s final third.
It’s when Adaline visits Ellis’ parents (Ford and Kathy Baker) for a Ruby Anniversary party that the story offers its major twist – even though the ‘bombshell’ admittedly doesn’t quite resonate like it should – and Ford reminds us he can still act outside of his well-known blockbuster roles.
Throw in the eclectic backdrop (for most of the film) of the Bay area and a script that is less clichéd than most, and it all adds up to Lively’s Adaline making this palatable romantic-drama more, erm, lively than most.
It obviously doesn’t have the same ‘bang for your buck’ as Age of Ultron – but Age of Adaline’s touch of elegance makes this a worthy time-stopper.
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Cast: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Kathy Baker, Amanda Crew, Cate Richardson & Ellen Burstyn
Running Time: 1 Hr 52 Mins
Director: Lee Toland Krieger