Friday, April 17, 2015

'The Age of Adaline' review

Blake Lively has enjoyed an incredibly successful career in the world of television, starring in the hit TV show Gossip Girl and becoming a teen idol thanks to that show's widespread influence. Unfortunately, she's had less influence in the world of movies, struggling to break through and become a movie superstar. She had a small part in the critically acclaimed film The Town, but she also happened to star in Green Lantern and Savages, two big misfires. While The Age of Adaline might not be a big hit for her career, it might gain a little bit approval for her as a real actress. Preposterous and predictable in every way possible, The Age of Adaline is a goofy film that just can't help but be fun and smartly charming. It makes several missteps along the way, but it never lost my attention and in the end, I really liked this unique tale.

Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) lived a normal life with her husband and daughter until she crashed her car into river during a freak California snow storm. However, an amazing feat of science brought Adaline back to life and she became immortal. For the next eighty years, Adaline remained on the run from the government and other shady figures who want to exploit her new power. The story picks up in the modern day, with Adaline preparing to make another new identity and move to Oregon to be with her aging daughter (Ellen Burstyn). But fate intervenes when Adaline meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), a wealthy philanthropist who she meets at a party.

The two get together and Adaline reluctantly falls in love with Ellis. They start to spend a lot of time together and make a weekend trip to his family's house for the weekend. However, Adaline's life might change for good when she reunites with Ellis's father William (Harrison Ford), a man who she had an affair with back in the 1960s. Through a series of miraculous events, Adaline learns to let go and find a way to accept her new way of life.

Age of Adaline gets off to a really shaky start, with some incredibly forced and straight up ridiculous voiceover narration that almost threatens the audience's intellect at times. For some reason, the filmmakers figured that we couldn't understand any of the first thirty minutes of this film and decided to include an absurd amount of voiceover to compensate for that. The narration disappears for a while, but it comes back in the end when the film travels to space (no, I'm not kidding), bringing a It's a Wonderful Life-esque quality to the movie. It's a minor element of the film, yet it's incredibly noticeable.

There's also a weird scientific element to this film that becomes quite bizarre at times. Adaline has some pretty weird and unexplainable stuff happen to her in this film and the film attempts to explain it all by saying that it was influenced by tides, the moon and some sort of ionization. Even though I very much enjoyed the film, I couldn't help but laugh at the inclusion of many of these story elements.

But besides those crazy additions to the film, The Age of Adaline is a pretty fun and sweet romantic drama. Sure, it's insanely predictable and absurd. You can see the ending of the film coming from a mile away. Yet I couldn't help but be engaged by the story on the screen and the way that it was told by director Lee Toland Kreiger. Lively, Huisman and Ford are effective actors and each bring something special to the film. Huisman is an incredibly charismatic leading man and I can see him having a future in Hollywood. Lively brings a bittersweet sadness to the role that also really works well. And Ford is efficient- he's not spectacular, but at least he picked a nice script this time around.

The film is predictable at every turn and schmaltzy as can be, but it still kept me hooked throughout the entire runtime. Why? Partially, the film operates as a guilty pleasure because it operates with an uncynical sweetness that is hard to find in modern films. The ridiculousness is part of the appeal, and the chemistry between Lively and Huisman helps the film reach new heights of success. Nobody is saying that Age of Adaline has a great story or stunning dialogue. But the characters are likable and you care about them at every turn.

Chalk that up to a successful screenplay from J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz. As previously noted, the cliches and predictability run rampant in this film, but that doesn't stop these guys from making an appealing and intricately woven tale. Adaline, Ellis and William are all good, optimistic people who believe in something. It's that warmth and the effortlessly smooth nature of the film that keeps it going. While the high concept sci-fi stuff intrudes at times, The Age of Adaline is 100% a romance story and the fact that I cared about the romance says a lot about the effectiveness of Goodloe and Paskowitz's script.

The Age of Adaline is no masterpiece, but it's a deliciously well made and consistently effective romance drama that manages to compel you for nearly two hours. Even when it goes off the deep end in the crazy department, this film manages to keep its charm thanks to strong lead performances, effortless pacing and a script that is based off of fundamentally nice characters. Thanks to the charisma of the stars, Age of Adaline is a resounding and romantic success.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B                                              (7.2/10)

Image Credits: US Magazine, Live for Films, Variety, YouTube, Screen Rant

1 comment:

  1. The ending is rather disappointing and predictable. It could have been far more interesting if the screenwriters willing to take a step further into the extreme or unknown.