Enjoyable with a core of humanity but the usual Sparks-like sentimentality.
The Age of Adaline
Director: Lee Toland Krieger (Celeste and Jesse Forever)
Screenplay: J. Mills Goodloe (The Best of Me), Salvadore Paskowitz (Nic & Tristan Go Mega Dega)
Cast: Blake Lively(Town), Michiel Huisman (Wild)
Runtime: 110 min
by John DeSando
Egads! I am ashamed to tell you I enjoyed The Age of Adeline, a dramatic romance that reeks of Nicholas Sparks except when it doesn’t. Adaline (Blake Lively) is 29 years old forever due to a freak occurrence of nature. As poets have always predicted, such a blessing has some regret as the ones she loves pass away and as she dare not commit to anyone because of her curse.
Much of this dramatic romance depends on the sentimental lingering of Adaline as she reviews her more than century of life without permanent love. Where I found a core of true humanity without sentimentality is in the latter half of the film as Adaline faces committing to an attractive, intelligent, and charitable philanthropist, Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman). Once again she faces the urge to leave because of her curse, but he and his family, notably the excellent Harrison Ford as his father, William, make her pause to consider letting go of her agelessness.
And so must we pause to consider how poets like Browning opined that the gods were jealous of mankind because of our ability to love and suffer, at, of course, the cost of our lives. But then Jesus Christ chose the imperfect route to redeem our sins. Not a bad reason yet it still holds the pain of death. This film at least makes us consider whether or not we would wish to live like Adeline, constantly running from reality unable to hold anyone but her aging daughter, Flemming (always excellent Ellen Burstyn), and Adaline’s dog.
Watch out for Harrison Ford’s best performance ever as a father caught in the web of time and a Trivial Pursuit game that shows us all how it should be played.
Realists might better stay home than face the usual romantic absurdities like how the substantial Ellis could so quickly fall in love with Adaline (called Jenny at this time in her life) or how the sentimental ending could have sunk a less intelligent film. Yet, the Twilight Zone could have produced such a fantasy, and I never complained about Rod Serling’s manipulations.
While at the end the film gives in to sap of the usual romance kind, it regularly rises above the trite to tackle the eternal puzzle of life, love, and romance. Besides, who doesn’t want to consider embracing the joys of aging, wrinkles and death?
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com