April 16, 2015

Movie Review: The Age of Adaline

Who says a horror loving guy like me can't enjoy a romantic film? It is certainly possible to cross those barriers, a good movie is a good movie, and movies affect different folks in different ways. If I sound a touch defensive, I just might be because I love film in all it's forms. This is not to say I love all movies. In any case, I saw a early screening of The Age of Adaline and while it is not perfect by any stretch, large portions of it were very effective and I can honestly say I quite enjoyed it.

The funny thing is that I sort of looked at it like a vampire movie, only without the blood and fangs. You see, the main crux of the tale is a young woman who does not age. Because of this mysterious fact that she realizes, but does not understand, she sort of takes up a somewhat nomadic life to avoid detection. She lives a rather lonely existence, becoming a new person every decade, to hide the fact that she is it getting any older.

I found this to be an interesting concept on which to hang what is a romantic film. This is not really about her aging issue, once it is introduced, it is played a little bit second fiddle. It is always there, but the aging is never the focus, her life and relationships are the focus. Does that make sense? Early on there is lip service to the idea that someone may want to turn her into an alien autopsy, and it makes sense, but it is one scene to put the idea in your head and get you closer to dealing with her existence.

The Age of Adaline opens in a very messy fashion. With voice over and old film footage and newspaper bits we are introduced to Adaline (Blake Lively) and shown when her aging stops. The problem is that it is very choppy, has no flow, and had me convinced that this was going to end up like last year's Winter's Tale. Fortunately it has a much better fate.

We pick up her life in the present, she looks to be in her late twenties, while her daughter (Ellen Burstyn) looks to be in her mid-70's. She is getting close to moving on to her next identity, but then she meets Ellis (Michael Huisman), a rich young philanthropist who takes a liking to her, a persistent liking. Adaline, currently using the name Jenny, fends him off for a little while before agreeing to a date. This meeting throws her life outlook into a bit of a turmoil.

It becomes an involving love story as the two of the, have an obvious chemistry and seem to belong together. Adaline's daughter encourages her to stop running and let love come to her again, but she is not so sure, afraid to let anyone in and steadfast in her desire to keep moving and changing her identity.

To say more would be telling, but I found myself rooting for them, wanting her to give in, tell of her past and try to make a life. The big thing to remember here is that while it is first and foremost a romantic film, it is also a fantasy, to that end we are not given all access to their lives and the fact that she is not aging is a big part of it. It is a tool which is used to examine life and love from a different perspective. Again, during the bulk of the film I was engaged and interested in these characters

There are some interesting things that happen, like running into an old lover (Harrison Ford, seen in the trailer), or finding an old vintage photograph in a hotel with her in it from decades prior. In a sense, disregarding the sloppy open (and to a lesser extent the ending), it s nicely crafted story, stylized, and involving.

The movie is shot well, there are some truly beautiful shots and some great lighting throughout that deserves the big screen. Also, I cannot say I am much of a Blake Lively fan, but here she is rather compelling. She is rather mesmerizing here. There is something about the way she carries herself, the cadence of her speech, things that make her stand just outside of time, just like her character.

I really did not like the documentary-esque opening and there are moments near the end that begin to take me out of the film. The good thing is that the middle was really good, I was drawn to the characters, could feel the emotion. It is a good film, the struggle was how to introduce the aging gimmick.

In the end, The Age of Adaline is a good film that I can recommend and one of the better romances I have seen in awhile. Iris not a easy genre to do these days, where it seems to be overrun with Nicholas Sparks formula junk.


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Thomas Watson said...

Despite the impressive work from Krieger, the main cast didn’t do much more me. Blake Lively was anything but lively.

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