A young woman, born at the turn of the 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. After years of a solitary life, she meets a man who might be worth losing her immortality for.
Harrison Ford is my favorite actor of all time. That moniker was bestowed upon him in the summer of 1981 when I first saw “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when I was 9 years old. He became not only my most idolized actor but also a father figure to me since mine wasn’t around and as I grew older, I began reading about his personal life and also his struggles within the film industry from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies when “Star Wars” came along and catapulted him into the stratosphere. My favorite performance of his is the 1988 thriller “Frantic” but with “The Age of Adaline,” even though he plays a supporting character, I literally could not take my eyes off of him whenever he appeared onscreen. He has not given such a sincere and honest performance in a very long time and he had me in tears on several occasions. The chemistry between he and Blake Lively’s titular character Adaline, was simply undeniable but at the same time, heartbreaking.
The film tells the story of Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively), a young woman in Northern California who is out driving in a storm one night in 1935 when her car swerves out of control and plummets over a cliff. With the vehicle on its side and Adaline inside of it, floating in freezing water, she quickly suffers the effects of hypothermia and dies but then the car is struck by lightning and the electrical discharge brings her back to life and from this moment forward, she stops aging. The only other person who knows about this is her daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) and as the years go by, and Flemming ages normally, they swap places with each other, Adaline, as youthful as ever, pretending to be Flemming’s daughter so as not to attract any uncalled-for attention. As the story moves forward to present day San Francisco, Adeline, is out with her friend Regan (Lynda Boyd) at a New Year’s party when she meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman).
Initially both attracted to each other, Adaline pulls away and makes every excuse not to go out with him. Come to find out that every ten years, she moves from place to place so that nobody around her will become suspicious of her timeless beauty and it is about that time for her but after much persistence from Ellis, she agrees to stay around a little longer. When he invites her to his parents’ place out in the country to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, she reluctantly agrees but upon arrival, Ellis’ father William (Harrison Ford), stops dead in his tracks when he sees Adaline. Apparently, they met many years ago while they were both in London and fell very hard for each other but Adeline pretends to be her daughter and diffuses what could have been a very awkward situation. As the weekend progresses however, William realizes that she is indeed Adaline and she finally breaks down and tells him her incredible story.
“The Age of Adeline” is the first love story in a very long time for me, where I was able to connect with all the central characters. Adeline has been on the run, from herself, for decades and when she meets Ellis, and then tells Flemming about him, she begs her mother to stop running but because she is afraid to get close to someone again after having left William all those years ago for the exact same reason, she finds herself at a crossroads, unsure of her next move. Films which incorporate elements of magic and even the supernatural, run the risk of being berated and criticized for not being realistic but isn’t that what movies are supposed to be about? Magic and fantasy and being transported away to another galaxy or dimension where we can forget our everyday worries for a few hours and just have fun? With a magical love story, the possibilities are endless and with a top-notch cast like the one on display here, the characters and performances are unforgettable.
Director Lee Toland Krieger has crafted an old-fashioned love-story that is, thankfully, reliant on story development and character exposition and you might think that with big-name stars like Mr. Ford and Ms. Lively, they would be more of a distraction but they disappear effortlessly into their characters and blend in with the rest of the film so that the story can unfold the way it’s meant to. San Francisco is the central location for the film and it is beautifully shot by cinematographer David Lanzenberg. The city becomes one of the primary characters and the movie overall, is shot old-school, utilizing long, beautiful tracking shots and compelling camera angles, avoiding the overly-clichéd handheld technique that I, and many others, so despise. Personally, it’s been a very long time since a film has been able to successfully bridge the gap between the screen and the audience but “The Age of Adaline” delivers the goods. This movie is beautiful and touching and full of exemplary performances and I for one, cannot wait to see it again. Very highly recommended.
In theaters April 24th
For more info about James visit his website at www.IrishFilmCritic.com