MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger. Starring Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman
We are living longer and longer, thanks to modern medicine, but that does not stop older adults from overestimating how young we are. If you hear someone say that “60 is the new 40”, don’t believe them but find a forty-year old quickly to remind yourself that twenty years of aging takes its toll, no doubt about it.
Nevertheless, the idea of eternal youth is a popular notion that often finds itself onscreen, including the hip vampires of the Twilight films. The Age of Adaline offers us a Twilight Zone-ish story about a young woman (Lively) whose car runs off of the road in 1937, plunges into icy water which pushes her into hypothermia, who is then struck by lightning and stops aging at the age of 29. (If this sounds confusing, it is, but we have an onscreen narrator explaining everything to us to make sure we understand the underlying premise.) Which is fine by me. This is a fantasy, after all, and you might as well get the background story handled as quickly as possible.
The film then follows Adaline through eight decades of her life, which include getting married, having a child (Izabel Pearce, Cate Ricardson, and Ellen Burstyn), and becoming widowed. Every ten years or so, Adaline takes on a new name and identity in order to get on with her life without drawing attention to herself.
When the film finally catches up to the present day, Adaline is living alone and working at a library’s archive office by day with an occasional visit with her octogenarian daughter. One day a charming technology millionaire (Huisman) sees Adaline at a party and is smitten. Will she share her secret with him?
Blake Lively does a wonderful job bringing Adaline to life and is able to convey some of the heartbreak that comes when everyone you know marches forward towards the inevitable end while you stay put. She is truly a “life learner” and enjoys an upper class lifestyle in spite of her challenges. And there are some interesting and surprising twists along the way. But, sadly, The Age of Adaline spends little time reflecting upon the changing roles of women that take place during the 107 years of Adaline’s life.
This movie aims to be a pleasant diversion and succeeds in fulfilling its modest goal in classy fashion. There is an offensive misstep toward the end of the film when our reliable off-screen narrator returns one last time to explain to everyone the meaning of what they have just seen. I may be old, but I’m not stupid. I wasn’t born yesterday, you know.
Three halos: Mortality and aging are linked to a traditional romantic story with entertaining results.
Two pitchforks: A couple of love scenes, done in tasteful James Bond fashion; mild swearing.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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