Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Blake Lively – Adaline Bowman
Michiel Huisman – Ellis Jones
Harrison Ford – William Jones
Ellen Burstyn – Flemming Prescott
Kathy Baker – Kathy Jones
The Age of Adaline completely surprised me, on every level. When I first saw the trailer my initial reaction was that of boredom, a “that looks like a load of shit” kind of thought. A few days later I was on a bus, and noticed a poster advertising the movie on the bus stop. Again, I cringed and thought, “I’m not seeing that, classic period drama – forward slash – slushy romance crap”.
But I gave it a go.
..and The Age of Adaline turned out to be one of my favourite movies of 2015 so far.
This was a love story of a different kind. And what made it so different were two elements:
The fascinating undercurrent of Adaline being unable to age.
The main plot of her falling in love with a man she just met.
Some movies out there tell a story of a man and a woman first meeting and then drag it out painfully, with long tedious scenes of “are they about to kiss?” moments and certain obstacles getting in the way of their growing relationship. I’ve seen some romance bullshit in my time, and sadly each one of these movies becomes the same as the last; woman finds letter or message written by her lover in the form of a photo or book and embarks on an emotional journey, or woman and man are seperated by their vastly different backgrounds and it is physically impossible for them to be together – but they get together. The cliché plots continue grow in Hollywood, each movie recycling ideas from previous ones to trying to captivate audiences.
The Age of Adaline however, was something I’ve not seen before. It has the makings of one of those Anne Hathaway-style car crashes, but skips some of the ingredients and produces something different. The love story between Ellis and Adaline is bearable, not overcooked or too slushy – it remains a steady and subtle throughout. Blended with the bizarre undercurrent of her not being able to grow any older and having to live through era after era made this love story more interesting.
I loved the fact that there were no lengthy, boring scenes in this movie; the whole thing moved at good speed with none of that tedious analysis of intimate moments between the main couple. Ironically, this movie progressed as swiftly as Adaline moved from one life to another. Soppy in parts but bearable, this was one romance I really enjoyed and wouldn’t mind sitting through again. And as I said, I assumed it would be utter shit – but I found it fantastic. I love it when a movie does that.
The sub-plot of this movie (although both plots are basically on the same level) is that Adaline Bowman can not age. Following a nasty car accident combined with an act of nature, the young woman’s DNA is re-written, causing her to stop ageing. She then has no choice but to live forever as twenty-nine years old. The movie shows brief clips of Adaline living in the 20’s, 60’s, and present day – with great use of set / costume, it really captures the moment of each era. I was fascinated by this concept; a woman preserved by nature and frozen in time whilst everyone else around her grow older..
But with fascination came sadness, as Adaline has to move from one town to another for fear of her ‘condition’ being discovered. The more I watched, the more saddened I felt by the character’s situation – how can something so miraculous be so sad? During one scene, Adaline’s secret is discovered by two FBI agents which leads to her having to outrun them in the pouring rain, in bare feet. What the producers do here is take a fascinating issue and add a sense of realism; show what might happen. The ability to not age wouldn’t just be amazing – it would make the person a specimen that needs to be studied, tested, etc. It’s a great concept to visualise, even better when shown in a movie or TV show, because the viewer gets to see the same person in various time lines and eras. Less time travel, more time surfing.
There are moments during this movie where Adaline’s secret becomes obvious to passers-by. One woman – a childhood friend of Adaline – spots her in church and questions rather sternly how she still looks the same, to which she responds by lying about an ‘amazing face cream’ she uses. And later on in the movie comes the scene where in the present day, she meets her daughter (now in her seventies) for lunch in a restaurant. Mother – 29 years old – sat opposite her 70-something year old daughter. Brilliant.
As I sat watching The Age of Adaline, I found myself smiling. Drinking in every second of this fascinating anti-ageing story. Subtle elements (such as mother-daughter relationship, even the issue of Adaline being pulled over by traffic police and having her licence checked) were highlighted with humour, bringing a sad situation to life in an entertaining way, but ultimately posing the type of “shit – what would you do in that sort of situation?” question. Aside this, it was actually quite exciting – this woman being on the run and having to change identities at the same time to prevent being discovered by people. Always running, always changing, unable to spend time with the same people for more than half a year – the character grows, yet her age remains the same. It is the perfect conflict of circumstance which somehow makes complete sense, and I was loving how different this romance movie was to others; Adaline’s incredible secret binding the feature together brilliantly so that the focus for 110 minutes wasn’t solely on slushy boring romance. Points scored for this.
I was very impressed at how this movie flowed. As mentioned above, it’s ironic how the speed of The Age of Adaline matches the lead character’s activity. As she runs from life to life, the action continues to flow without slowing. The moments of tension are splendid, providing a bite of suspense before the action continues. One such moment is when Ellis takes Adaline home to introduce her to his parents. The second his father (Ford) sets eyes on her, there is a dramatic pause leading to a scene of confrontation that is played out brilliantly by Lively and Ford. This part of the movie genuinely made me gasp, I had my eyes firmly fixed on the screen and don’t think I blinked once during it. Roughly fifty-five seconds of nail-biting tension, and the movie pushes onwards into the next scene. Nice – the producers threw in a scene of suspense, shocking me briefly before returning to normal. They didn’t drag it out, nor did they glaze over it. It was the perfect length, focusing more on suspense than soppy.
I found this element of movie-making very satisfying. And what’s more, this particular part of the movie wasn’t filled with the usual time-consuming shit where the characters sit round a dinner table discussing the female love interest’s parents, or having the girl looking out over a pretty field with the guy stood behind her, running his hands up and down her waistline, checking for a pulse. On the contrary, girl meets parents – tension arises – movie continues.
How was I enjoying this movie? I was certain from the trailer I would disike it, but all these factors were building it into a great watch.
The structure of The Age of Adaline is brilliant, built solidly on the surreal dilemma of a woman who cannot age and moving at a pace which ensures the audience are never left short of narrative or entertainment.
I’ve seen some movies where the less performance an actor gives, the more effective they are – ‘less is more’ summed up.
Unfortunately for Blake Lively, less is less. Although I was captivated by her character, she spends probably 80% of her screen time speaking in monotone and whispering – and her body language remains minimal too. I must point out though, that Adaline’s delicate diction does match the era she is from. Something about her soft, almost husky voice sounds out of place in present day America – it is very ‘twenties’. On this scale Blake does well. On the scale of effectiveness, she doesn’t exactly set the screen on fire. Had the main character not been played by her I have a feeling she would fade nicely into the background as ‘woman sat opposite in café’ type person.
I’ll mention here that there is a scene where Adaline attends a New Year’s Eve party and catches sight of historic photographs (taken in the 1920’s) of the venue it is being held in. She is part of the photographs – and the look on her face as she has a flashback is striking; she stands, dressed beautifully with her hair and make-up beaming, staring at the photo. Something about her facial expression grabbed me. It radiated sadness, intrigue. Watch out for this scene, the emotional undercurrent is quite powerful.
I’m half and half on Blake’s performance; the plausible concept is delivered well by the actress, but she needs an injection of dynamic to make her stand out a bit more. This is my only criticism of the production.
Well done to the chap playing a young William Jones (Adaline’s boyfriend in the 1960’s) – he couldn’t have been better cast. In present day, William is played by Harrison Ford. And this young man looks exactly like him about forty years ago, it’s incredible. He even has a deep husky voice like Harrison. The likeness is uncanny – and the actor Anthony Ingruber needs a mention. What a perfect casting!
As this movie ended and the credits began to roll, I felt that classic heavy welling of tears behind my eyes. I exited the cinema, walked to the bus stop – and started crying.
The Age of Adaline was just superb. Emotional, intriguing, fascinating. It takes a story which could quite easily be sci-fi and blends in a little romance to produce a fresh, authentic movie. Those other features out there (usually made cheesier by the likes of Anne Hathaway or Gerard Butler) can stick to their cliché bullshit – this movie completely overrides those, and brings something new to the screen. This isn’t some dull period drama either, however much it may look like it. The Age of Adaline hits the audience with a nice amount of suspense as its lead character is on the run throughout time from people who might discover her secret. Fake identities and keeping low profiles add to the storyline perfectly, creating an air of intrigue also.
Mixed with this fascinating anti-ageing plot is pure sadness; how living forever wouldn’t be as exciting as most people would think, and instead is shown as incredibly lonely and in a sense – suffering.
The cast breeze through this movie, delivering one of high impact that is bursting with talent. Overall, this isn’t a bad watch thanks to its solid structure and entertainment value, and of course, the bizarre plot.
There isn’t much more I can elaborate on, you have to watch it to appreciate it. I certainly did. I love it when I think a movie is going to be awful, and it turns out brilliant.