|Michiel Huisman (left) and Blake Lively|
in 'The Age of Adaline'
Yes, we see two beautiful, smart and monogamous heterosexuals hook up, but if that's all you got, it's pretty lame. Most romantic films, therefore, employ a gimmick. The gimmick here is that Blake Lively (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Savages) who stars as Adaline Bowman, a linguist and archivist who is the widow of a Golden Gate Bridge engineer and single mother to one daughter, becomes a woman who no longer grows old.
She was born on January 1, 1908, but a car accident in the 1930's where she was struck by lightning after her heart arrested caused her to stop aging. She then remains frozen at the age of 29 or so, even into the year 2015. She's 107 years-old but she looks like she's 29. In the 1960's, she continued to live her life, but people began to notice that she wasn't aging. She decided to leave and change her identity.
Adaline realizes she can't have a committed or long-term relationship because she wouldn't be able to grow old with the other person, so eventually he would die and she would go on indefinitely if not forever. She sees this as only heartbreaking, so she avoids getting involved with men. This changes when she meets a lovely and very persistent man on New Year's Eve.
Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones and Treme) co-stars as Ellis, a young entrepreneur who made a fortune selling an invention with his college friend. He pursues Adaline after seeing her one day reading and doesn't let up. He's an interesting and sweet guy, so Adaline is easily taken with him, as anyone probably would.
Harrison Ford co-stars as William Jones, an astronomer and father of Ellis who meets Adaline on the weekend of his 40th wedding anniversary to his wife Kathy, played by Kathy Baker. However, William realizes that Adaline is the same woman whom he met over 40 years ago when he was only 26, yet she hasn't aged since. It's revealed that William was in love with Adaline and wanted to marry her.
This opens the door for the film, directed by Lee Toland Krieger (The Vicious Kind and Celeste & Jesse Forever), and written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz, to explore all kinds of questions about true love, especially when you factor in variables like huge age-gaps and the idea of love over time and how it equates with building a life. Yet, this film is not interested in any of it.
Adaline is 107 years-old and Ellis is in his late 20's or early 30's. The question is if their relationship only works because she doesn't look like she's 100. If Adaline actually looked as if she were 100, old and wrinkled, would Ellis have approached and essentially pursued her? That's the question this movie doesn't want to ask, or it knows the answer and wants to deny the truth.
At one point, Adaline is at a New Year's Eve party with her friend who is blind and possibly in her 50's or older. A young man walks up to Adaline and her friend. Both women are sitting there, but it seems as if the man is more interested in Adaline than her older friend. Adaline dismisses this man, but it seems obvious that the man would have preferred Adaline because she's younger and seemingly more beautiful. This is an essential question that this film avoids.
Another thing this movie avoids is the fact that Adaline has had sexual relations with both a father and his son. Ellis is the son and he apparently has no problem with it. If that's the case, that's fine, but this movie should have addressed it. We don't even see Ellis react to the news or that information in the moment. The movie skips over it and it's a cop out. How would the rest of Ellis' family react to Ellis being involved with the woman his dad almost married? It would make for an awkward family dinner that this film doesn't want to handle.
Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for a suggestive comment.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 52 mins.