J. Mills Goodloe
Lee Toland Krieger
What To Expect
The concept of ‘forever young’ is a fantasy many revel in. Time is a transient dimension that scores of individuals desire to conquer, and the subject has not gone untouched in the past as far as films are concerned. Storytellers have striven to foster logic behind their tales of defeating mortality that beholders can believe, until along came Lee Toland Krieger, winner of the Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Denver International Film Festival for The Vicious Kind, tugging at the strings of reason. From the surface it would seem as if he were making a mockery of adult sense, but in the depths of his latest feature, The Age of Adaline, Krieger has induced an emotional gravity that will compel you to sit through this romance drama that is driven by a brave sci-fi fantasy, exploring the very honest and simple outcome of immortality.
What’s It About
Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) was born on January 1, 1908. It is now the year 2015, and at the age of 107, Adaline has not aged since she had an accident at the age of 29. Over the years, Adaline begins to draw suspicion as her everlasting youthful appearance does not support her legally registered age, nor her status as the mother of an adult daughter, Flemming. Thus making it a habit to relocate regularly and forge her identity every decade, Adaline is now ready to move on to a farm in Oregon when one night at a New Year’s Eve party she meets the charming Ellis (Michiel Huisman). Winning over her hard-to-get heart, Ellis and Adaline begin to share an unquestionable romance which threatens to muddle the already complicated perpetuity that she has acceded to.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Speaking strictly for reason, this plot sounds absurd! As the narrative begins to unfold you are left questioning the very logic behind the sequence of events and their consequences, perhaps particularly because of how out of place the scientific element behind Adaline’s eternal youth seems in a romantic drama. And yet, once the narrative begins to settle, Krieger puts forth a romance feature craftily wrapped with a little more magic than reality, and that thin sci-fi ribbon interlacing it all. And without at all being obvious, Krieger reveals why being ‘forever young’ may not churn out to be quite the fable we expect.
His writers, J Mills Goodloe, who penned down last year’s summer adaptation of Nicolas Sparks’s The Best of Me, accompanied by Salvador Paskowitz, whose maiden written feature Nic & Tristan Go Mega Dega made for a forgettable family film, have asserted the age-old saying, ‘two heads are better than one.’ Goodloe carries forward his traces of sugary romance and makes the most of his opportunity to do better that which he was unable to in his last screenplay, whilst Paskowitz sprinkles some fable dust onto the mix to make a unique combination of adult-appealing fantasy.
David Lanzenberg returns to Krieger’s camera crew after previous collaboration on the latter’s critically acclaimed rom-com Celeste & Jesse Forever, and captures some very raw and powerful emotions, in addition to the mesmerising landscape and cinematography that demands to accompany a film like Adaline.
Although Adaline is accompanied by its fair share of imperfections, most notably how certain major turns of events were very bluntly foreseeable, a noteworthy mention needs to be made for both Krieger’s direction and Melissa Kent’s editing. Being no stranger to the world of romance with previous edits on The Vow, The Virgin Suicides and more, Kent’s praiseworthy edit saves scenes on more than one occasion, administering emotional compulsion where otherwise one would have said, ‘Ugh, I knew it!’
To Perform Or Not To Perform
Oh yes to perform! Adaline is seething with a few very powerful performances, Blake Lively being at the helm of it all. The loneliness of a most charismatic and attractive woman, who has lived 107 years in silence, seen and endured much, and met and left many, manifests itself marvelously with Lively’s subdued emotions. Although in a couple of places through the film her persona came across as a tad too childish for someone over a century old, the overall grace with which her Adaline is portrayed is certainly a milestone in Lively’s promising career.
Michiel Huisman delivers a convincing performance as Ellis Jones, with his repeated attempts to swoon and flirt with Adaline often tickling sentiments as you are left with a smile.
Now here’s the deal breaker – the award-winning Ellen Burstyn as Flemming, Adaline’s approximately 86-year-old daughter. Although reason argues that Flemming were to out-age her mother past the age of 29, the mother-daughter duo is not at all convincing, although as an isolated individual Burstyn’s performance is endearing.
Perhaps the lack of coherence between the seemingly young mother and an aged daughter may have been intentional – who would believe it, right? – but even with Cate Richardson’s cameo in her maiden feature as a 20-year-old Flemming, there is little emotional authenticity in the relationship.
A pleasant surprise in the film was Harrison Ford, whom I will speak very little of to prevent any spoilers falling through except for how sincere and heartfelt his role was.
The verdict: Yes!
The Age of Adaline is not a perfect film. It is, however, not an entirely unoriginal film either! Some stellar performances, and an honest effort make this fairytale written exclusively for the adult audience an emotionally beautiful experience to watch – if you can keep your mind (and heart) open to the ‘magic’ that can touch our lives, despite having outgrown that age!
Watch the trailer
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