ShOR 365: The Age of Adaline

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Welcome to day three (four? Five? I’m already losing count) of ShOR 365! I’m going to be honest and say that this one isn’t a new movie for me but I have 32 other movies to make up for this one this month. I promise. I just have a lot of feels about this film and I need to express them somehow. This is how I’m going to do it.

So, without further ado, let me rave about The Age of Adaline.

The movie tells the story of Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively). Adaline was born New Year’s Day in 1908. In 1937, after the death of her husband, she is involved in a car accident that renders her unable to age. In the 50s, she’s tracked by the FBI and has to continuously move around to keep her identity secret so she doesn’t become a science experiment. She has a daughter named Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) and, save for one moment of weakness, has kept her name secret for 60 years. Her perfect existence is uprooted when she meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), a wealthy philanthropist that captures her entire heart. On a trip to meet his parents, Adaline, whose alias is Jennifer “Jenny” Larson, realizes that a life, even an immortal one, is nothing without love and honesty.

The Age of Adaline didn’t do very well in theaters which is a shame. It’s such a quietly interesting fantasy romance film that I cried like a baby when I first saw it. Okay, maybe I didn’t cry like a baby but I did tear up and every character is brought to life so vividly, I felt I was living Adaline’s life with her. Of course, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a sucker for period films and this one is no exception, however, it’s not really a period film. It’s a modern film with period flashbacks and the flashbacks are so well done. The costumes are beautiful and Lively really brings Adaline to life with such beauty and poise. I hope to be as refined as Adaline Bowman when I grow up.

Lively also handles the script she was given really well. There is a sense of sadness and loss in her eyes that no doubt someone in Adaline’s position would feel. This is a woman who has seen her husband die, has seen her friends die, and is now watching her daughter grow old before her eyes all while remaining eternally youthful and beautiful. Lively plays it really well. Also, her chemistry with Huisman is brilliant. There is this astronomical pull between them that the audience doesn’t understand until the back half of the film and it’s played out beautifully.

The big surprise of this film is Harrison Ford. He’s been Indiana Jones and Han Solo for so long, I think people forget that he can give a stellar performance when given a well-written script. He plays Ellis’ father, William, brilliantly. There is an understated sadness in his eyes that multiplies upon meeting “Jenny”. Spoiler alert: he was Adaline’s one moment of weakness. He was going to propose to Adaline but she knew she couldn’t settle down and so she ran away and disappeared. The audience can see that William is still haunted by this ethereal and infinitely wise woman and it just makes the stakes more palpable for Adaline. Does she stay with Ellis and watch him get older and decay? Or, does she continue to run? Reuniting with William hurts Adaline and Ford and Lively play their parts perfectly. They both have good chemistry. I would love to see them acting in another film together, honestly.

Beyond the stellar performances, The Age of Adaline is a gorgeous film. The costumes that Adaline wears are to die for. I want her closet. Not only that but the cinematography is stunning. The director, Lee Toland Krieger, really understood how to frame San Francisco as this wonderful place that Adaline keeps returning to. He captures the beauty that Adaline sees and is drawn to in her city. Plus, the flashbacks are so ethereal and mystical but full of color and it’s nice to see these different parts of Adaline’s life come to life so vividly.

Can the writing be improved? Yes. I could do without the narrator voicing Adaline’s story. I would’ve preferred to see it acted out but, in all, The Age of Adaline is a wonderful romantic drama that functions well with its more fantastical elements. I implore you to watch this film. In fact, I can say that this movie is one of my most favorite films I’ve seen in a few years. It’s that good.

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