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With: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Ellen Burstyn, Harrison Ford, Amanda Crew, Kathy Baker, Lynda Boyd
Written by: J. Mills Goodloe, Salvador Paskowitz
Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a suggestive comment
Running Time: 110
Date: 04/24/2015
IMDB

The Age of Adaline (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Age Struck

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Blake Lively has never been a particularly interesting actress, but she is absolutely enchanting in The Age of Adaline. Thanks to a strange accident, her character stops aging sometime in the 1920s, and for fear of being seen as a freak of nature, she begins a process of changing identities and moving to new cities every decade. In the present day, she lives in San Francisco and is getting ready to disappear again. She attends a New Year's party, and her every move and her every interaction seems to carry with it the weight of decades. She has a certain politeness that might have come from some more innocent time that she has steadfastly held onto. She has poise and confidence in her physicality; she's almost regal, like a modern-day Audrey Hepburn.

The movie cooks up some nifty moments like Adaline dining with her daughter, Flemming (Ellen Burstyn), who has aged properly and can now pass as Adaline's grandmother. The two actresses share a wonderful physicality in their moments, slipping into their bizarre mother-daughter roles. But the rest of the movie heads into troubled waters.

Adaline, of course, meets a handsome man, Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), who, true to all modern movie romances, must be rich, unshaven, and have a perfectly sculpted chest (with at least one shirtless scene). He's also kind and generous, and spends his millionaire time trying to help others, as well as cooking his own dinners and listening to jazz. Adaline begins her usual resistance, but this time, for whatever reason, she is tired of resisting.

Trouble begins when Ellis takes her to meet his folks William and Connie (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker). I don't want to give anything away, but when William sees Adaline, his reaction is quite powerful. (Ford nails his role just as well as Lively nails hers.) The movie does a fine job of walking the line between a 3-hanky romance without pouring on the tears or without deterring into ridiculousness. It does lay on the fantasy stuff a bit too thick, however, with an unseen narrator explaining all the particular science that brought on Adaline's condition; we didn't need to know it. Sometimes movies work just fine when things are unexplained.

But here's what really bothered me, and you should not read on if you don't want any spoilers. The movie is really only about love of appearances. If Adaline is 100 years old, wouldn't her spirit have a difficult time connecting with someone who is only 30? Sure, you see young models marrying rich, old billionaires all the time, but it's highly doubtful that there is a true spiritual connection there. I just couldn't buy that Adaline would fall for Ellis in any "true love" way. He's more like her arm candy. Why couldn't she have hooked up with one of her older flames, someone closer to who she actually is in spirit, and someone who has put some time in on this earth?

Of course, there is a double-standard there, and dozens of movies have been made with older men winning the hearts of women decades younger, so I suppose it's acceptable in some ways. Nonetheless, because of its choices, The Age of Adaline is really nothing more than a surface romance, something to pass the time rather than something that will stick with you. However, Lively has really stepped up her game here, and I hope she gets more roles as good as Adaline.

Warner Home Video's nice-looking Blu-ray comes with a bonus DVD and a digital copy, a humble, informative director's commentary track, a 30-minute making-of documentary, a featurette on the production design, and a cool mini-feature about the finding of Anthony Ingruber, who plays the young Harrison Ford in the movie. There are also a couple minutes of deleted scenes and trailers.

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