Gone are the days when you could depend on a bad film being poorly made. ‘The Age of Adaline’ is lavishly shot in greens and browns making the city of San Francisco appear like a character of its own. It has lofty ambitions of turning its romantic story into a meditation of love and time, a twinkly score, a stunning Blake Lively who is able to pull off period costumes and contemporary apparel, and a deeply affecting performance by Harrison Ford.
What went wrong? Well, let me start by describing the plot. Adaline (Blake Lively) is a 107-year-old woman. Yes, you read that right. She hasn’t aged in appearance since was 29 years-old. She falls in love with Ellis (Michiel Huisman who looks like a young Eric Bana) and things get complicated because she knows she won’t be able to grow old with him. The director is Lee Toland Kreiger. His debut in 2012 ‘Jesse and Celeste Forever’ effectively dissected the details of a complicated relationship. Not here.
The laughable voice-over narration attempts to provide a scientific explanation for these farfetched events which is just one of the film’s many narrative miscalculations. I don’t know why the screenplay felt the need to spell things out for us, but it takes us out of the fairy tale and brings us back to reality making these already absurd moments seem even more ludicrous.
Being in a state of permanent jejunity freaks out Adaline, and understandably so. She looks like the granddaughter of her own daughter. But, rather than pursuing medical attention she chooses to be a drifter. She moves from location to location with a new identity and when she bumps into someone from the past with a perplexed look on their face, she attributes her youthful qualities to a Parisian anti-aging cream.
Now, if you’ve been given the gift (or curse) of agelessness and you’re ostensibly immune to any sort of ailment, wouldn’t you want to share your story in the belief that it could lead to a major medical discovery? How selfish of her. And, in the event you become romantically involved with someone, would you conceal these details about yourself knowing that withholding such information will result in you having to disappear on this person at some point?
Adaline’s forbearance goes out the window after spending time with Ellis. It isn’t long before she agrees to meet his parents for their 40th anniversary party and this is where the narrative introduces an unwelcome and ill-advised plot twist that derails the entire picture. Let’s just say that Adaline has a history with Ellis’ father (Harrison Ford) that bears some resemblance to what she shares with Ellis. Does this not sound icky to you? I almost described Ford as an innocent bystander, but no, he, along with all the other cast members, had the advantage of reading the screenplay prior to production.
I expect ‘Age of Ultron’ (i.e. the upcoming ‘Avengers’ movie) to be more plausible than ‘The Age of Adaline’. In order for a movie such as this to succeed, it has to transport the viewer beyond skepticism on a wave of pellucid feeling. Instead, you’re left to suffocate in sentimental, deathless nonsense. This made me want to bump every movie I’ve seen in 2015 by ½ a star. What a load of crap this was. Should you choose to seek this film out, and I don’t recommend you do, see it with a good group of friends after you’ve each consumed a bottle of wine – in your inebriated state, accompanied by non-stop giggles, ‘The Age of Adaline’ might function as a 4-star experience. Unfortunately, I saw it sober, and can only award it a very generous 1-star. QED.