UK Release Date: 8th May 2015
Runtime: 113 minutes
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Writer: J Mills Goodloe, Salvador Paskowitz
Starring: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn
Synopsis: After experiencing a freak car accident, a young woman finds herself unable to age, which complicates her romantic relationships.
The genre of syrupy romantic dramas is usually dominated by the behemoth that is Nicholas Sparks’ literary oeuvre. This year, however, there’s a challenger in the shape of Lee Toland Krieger’s utterly ridiculous, but oddly charming, high concept drama The Age of Adaline.
Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) is involved in a car accident at the age of 29 and is struck by lightning, which stops her ageing process. Eventually, she makes the decision to leave her daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) behind to run from the authorities. This all changes when she meets an attractive young man Ellis (Michiel Huisman) and his father William (Harrison Ford).
On paper, The Age of Adaline is a film that absolutely should not work. The premise is utterly ludicrous and it’s all shot like the kind of bizarre film you find playing on an obscure satellite channel late at night. However, The Age of Adaline somehow emerges mostly unscathed.
| "Tell me something I can hold on to forever and never let go."
The success of the film is in the decision to play every aspect of the barmy story straight. There’s no nodding or winking at the audience in order to acknowledge how silly the film is. It takes itself incredibly seriously, which largely helps to elevate the romantic aspect of the story, even as it undercuts some of the attempts at levity.
The Age of Adaline benefits from a charismatic central turn from Blake Lively. There’s something mysterious and beguiling about her performance that really sells the idea of a woman uncomfortable and out of her own time. There’s a wisdom and maturity to Adaline that is unsettlingly out of step with her youthful appearance. Ellen Burstyn also milks emotion as her grown-up daughter.
Men fare less well, with Michiel Huisman never registering as anything more than a dull love interest. Harrison Ford, though, absolutely steals the show. He has become notorious in recent years for phoning in his work, but he provides the emotional core of The Age of Adaline’s third act and completely walks away with the film as a result of a deeply sensitive, melancholy performance.
| "I don’t think I’ll ever understand why so few people care about history."
It’s true that The Age of Adaline is an overblown melodrama. However, for every moment of unintentional hilarity, there’s also one of odd poignancy derived from the strong performances. This is a film that, despite every one of its obvious flaws, deserves its place on cinema screens, ludicrous pseudo-science and all.
Pop or Poop?
The laughable premise of The Age of Adaline proves to only be a slight hindrance to the film’s melancholy take on the human cost of doomed love.
Blake Lively and Harrison Ford take home the bulk of the praise here, with many of the supporting players struggling to find the right tone.
There’s a little too much melodrama and the relentlessly serious tone leaves the film a little bleak, but there’s real emotion to be found.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.