Intoxicating ‘The Age of Adaline’ a Featherweight Fantasy

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Average: 5 (1 vote) Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “The Age of Adaline” is a beautifully shot featherweight fantasy that remains charming as long as you don’t think about it too hard, or at all.  At one point one character asks another why he loves Adaline, and he replies “because she makes no sense.” The same could be said for this movie. It doesn’t make a lick of sense but I enjoyed it and it’s intoxicating in its own way. It goes down easy like a good “Manhattan” or some other vintage cordial of the era.  

Blake Lively stars as Adaline, a pretty young woman who has a Zelig-like quality of being involved in just about every major event to happen in San Francisco in the first half of the 20th century. She’s born just after the great earthquake after all, on new years eve and gets herself into the movies when Thomas Edison himself comes around with his movie camera.  After her husband dies in an accident, while building the Golden Gate bridge no less, she is caught in a freak snowstorm while driving to see their daughter.

Blake Lively in ‘The Age of Adaline
Photo credit: Lionsgate

Through a combination of cosmic events, a car accident and a lightning strike, Adaline emerges with the ability to never age. She will eternally be 29 forever, even while her own daughter grows up and eventually starts calling herself her own mama’s grandma to keep up appearances.  Far from being a gift, “The Age Of Adaline” sees this supernatural fountain of youth as an isolating burden. She is young but outside of her own daughter she lacks someone to grow old with. So she settles for a life on the run especially after the G-Men get whiff of her unusual condition and try to take her off to a secret government lab.   

“The Age of Adaline” is a tale of whimsy. It’s an old fashioned romance with a literary bent that shares some of Nicholas Sparks fascinations with the written word, without his ham fisted dialogue. It’s charming in its attention to little details, while hoping that its audience will just go along with the central conceit.  

And Blake Lively is perfectly cast. She certainly looks the part with her hair done up in a Veronica Lake do and her voice channeling a lesser 1940’s movie actress. But she finds a vulnerability underneath all the exquisitely photographed images. So when she remarks at a party that a singer reminds her of a young “Bing Crosby,” she hesitates and then seamlessly adds the word “type” to cover her tracks there’s a sense of isolation of a cultural reference that fewer and fewer can share.  

But once again the biggest surprise is Harrison Ford. He plays an astronomer who had a fling with Adaline back in the 1960’s, but she stood him up and vanished forever. That is until she falls in love with Ford’s son Ellis (Michiel Huisman) and he brings her up to the house in the country to meet dear old mom and dad.  

Harrison Ford in ‘The Age of Adaline
Photo credit: Lionsgate

I’m no fan of cranky old Harrison Ford. His surliness seems increasingly out of place in the big budget blockbusters he continues to star in, but every now and then his cranky cantankerous persona will find just the right outlet under the radar. The film does indulge some silly romantic scenes of the elderly Ford running through the woods yelling Adaline’s name in the same tone of voice as Dr. Richard Kimball imploring police to find the one armed man in “The Fugitive,” but I enjoyed him anyway, and his barely concealed grumpiness worked for the character.      

No one is going to call “The Age Of Adaline” one of the greatest love stories of our time. And it’s a nearly two-hour movie with only about 100 minutes of actual material in it. But it’s a charming enough date movie that will dazzle your eyes, and it left me satisfied before vaporizing into the ether.

“The Age of Adaline” opens everywhere on April 24th. Featuring Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman, Ellen Burstyn, Amanda Crew and Kathy Baker. Screenplay by J. Mils Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz. Directed by Lee Toland Krieger. Rated “PG-13” contributor Spike Walters


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