23 Apr 2015

The Age of Adaline - film review

From At The Movies, 7:50 pm on 23 April 2015

Simon Morris reviews The Age of Adaline - starring Blake Lively, Ellen Burstyn, Harrison Ford and Michiel Huisman, Directed by Lee Toland Krieger

The story of The Age of Adaline, like the character’s name, is oddly old-fashioned.

It’s not modern sci-fi, or fashionable magic fantasy.  It’s more a trad Tale of Mystery and Imagination, the way Edgar Allen Poe, Somerset Maugham and Dean Spanley’s Lord Dunsaney used to tell them. With an engaging narrator.

We see Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) get married, have a baby girl, and then lose her husband. Shortly afterwards she’s driving along a Californian highway, and encounters that rare West Coast phenomenon, a snow-storm.

Adaline plunges into icy water, then gets struck by lightning. You’d think her life would be over, but no. Quite the contrary, as it turns out.

So, the film asks, what would happen if all the promises made by make-up manufacturers, vitamin salesmen and keep-fit promoters actually came true?  

Adaline passes through the Twentieth Century looking exactly how she looked in 1935. She’s a freak, and is terrified someone will discover her secret.

The only person who knows the exact Age of Adaline is her daughter – a spritely 80 when we meet her, played by Ellen Burstyn.  

Adaline meets the incredibly good-looking, rich and yet unspoiled Ellis, played by Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman. Lowering her guard she agrees to visit Ellis’s family, and discovers another golden oldie in the shape of Ellis’s Dad. It’s Harrison Ford – coincidentally a very old boyfriend of Adaline’s - and she’s got some fast talking to explain that away.

Finally, we get to the point of the story – that Adaline’s permanent youth is really a curse. She can’t stay anywhere long, she’s got no friends, she can never fall in love. 

I found myself warming to The age of Adaline rather more than I thought I was going to. Its old-fashioned story-telling is a refreshing change from all these more modern fantasy films that are all so numbingly similar.

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