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Monday, April 27, 2015

The Age of Adaline 2015 * * 1/2 Stars

The Age of AdalineDirector: Lee Toland Krieger
Year: 2015
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman

In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brad Pitt's title character ages in reverse. In 2015's The Age of Adaline (my latest review), Blake Lively's title character doesn't well, age at all. There's a resemblance between the two vehicles. Both of them have a gimmick ("Adaline" contains the concept of stasis while "Button" contains the concept of backward countenance), both of them are in a sense, whimsical, and both have an olden-like film score. But "Adaline" is Benjamin Button buttoned down. It contains a story that is discombobulated yet still reeks of obviousness. Pitt's 2008 Oscar nominee also had its share of obvious moments. But at a running time of nearly three hours, it stayed its course. The Age of Adaline (clocking in at about an hour and fifty minutes) turns idle while it slugs its way towards the second half. This isn't quite the fictional, Shaky Town treat if you know what I mean.

Now don't get me wrong, "Adaline" renders itself strong in certain areas. You have the perfect casting of Blake Lively, the cinematography channeling elegance to the nth degree, sights and sounds triggering echos from an old ballroom, and effective editing screaming "cut to action." You also sadly, get to experience crocodile trembling from Harrison Ford (overacting is another way of putting it), out of place narration masked as science lecture, and puzzle piece coincidences. The real star of this flick is the city of San Francisco (a locale that is used brilliantly here). Its breathtaking Golden Gate Bridge and hovering downtown however, don't do enough to garner my recommendation.

Directed by virtual unknown Lee Toland Krieger and set in present day (despite veritable flashbacks happening throughout), The Age of Adaline chronicles a woman of superior grace named Adaline Bowman (Lively). She's an archivist who works in a library and harbors a secret that only her daughter knows about (Flemming played by Ellen Burstyn). You see Adaline is about 107 years old yet looks as though she's in her late twenties. She's unaware of how this happened but we as the audience have a clue (based on the annoying narration that interrupts the film as though it's an unwanted party guest). A long time ago, this woman was in a brutal car accident. After surviving it, the aspect of aging was something her body refused to do. Lively's character then lives the next eight decades in a lie. She changes her identity, separates herself from her daughter (as mentioned earlier), alludes the FBI who question who she really is (and want to capture her as a specimen), and breaks some hearts along the way (a father fails to propose to her in the 1960's and his son subsequently falls in love with her circa 2014).

Now the storytelling from the onset of "Adaline", is of the highest order. However, as its running time dissipates, you start to get into "where is this all heading towards" territory. The film's contrivance carries things for so long until the plot finally runs out of steam. The big reveal comes and Adaline reluctantly gets into another car accident (spoiler alert). As this happens, she begins to age again and finally live a normal life (it would take me another paragraph to explain why so watch the movie and you'll get the gist of what I'm talking about).

Dramatic weirdness aside, some critics have noted that the main protagonist featured, is a standoffish principal, a lady who is sort of cold and reserved. They coined this notion as negative meaning that it sort of hurts the film in general. I agreed wholeheartedly until chatting with an audience member via a screening in Rosemont, Illinois. This person made a good point in saying that Adaline had to be this way. She needn't get too close to people or become attached because of her condition. Regardless, Blake Lively plays said centenarian magnificently. It's her look with old world hairstyles and outfits that seems perfected. It's her persona that stands tall with Forrest Gumpian flavor. Finally, it's the mannerisms she brings to the role that suggest that she is in fact, a stoic human being (who's lived a long life). With every eye glance, every head turn, and every mild voice alteration, Lively conveys old and wise. Talk about a revelation in genre acting.

Note to self: (Spoiler alert number two) I initially thought it was creepy when Adaline slept with her love interest being Ellis Jones (played by Michiel Huisman who looks like a cross between Shia Labeouf and Eric Bana). I mean she obviously looked young but you can't have hormones past the age of 100 right? Again, I was corrected by my knowledgeable audience member from the last paragraph. I was informed that Adaline had stasis issues. Her body was still stuck in the same equilibrium meaning that only time had passed, not the lacking of a sex drive.

In conclusion, The Age of Adaline doesn't succeed in getting the tear ducts flowing. It does however, provide the perfect platform to showcase Blake Lively's strengths as an actress. It gives Tarzana's chosen one the chance to let the screen love her and then let her love it right back. In the first hour of the proceedings, she peers into the camera as a blond, starry-eyed starlet. She then says softly, "let go". How can I. This for me, is modernized, Golden Age of Hollywood stuff. Dare I say that it could have been so much better.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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