May 24, 2015
When I went to see this film, I had no idea what this was going to be about. The trailer was good, because it was interesting without letting on what exactly the central story would be. All I saw was a love story about a woman named Adaline and the men in her life. With the word "Age" in the title, I guessed that there would be a time component to the story, maybe time-travel.
It turns out this was not the case, and I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, it is impossible to write about this film without spoiling some plot details. I could stop here and say that this was a very well-made and well-acted romance film that spans decades, with excellent period details. Ladies, in particular, will enjoy watching this and probably shed a tear or two at certain parts. But for those who have seen it or those who do not mind knowing more about the story, do read on as I write more of my thoughts about this film. I will still try to avoid mentioning too much plot detail.
Adaline Bowman was an ordinary woman born on New Year's Eve 1908. When she was 29 years old, her chromosomes were altered by an interaction of hypothermia and a high-voltage electrical shock, freezing her at that age for the rest of her life (a scientific phenomenon yet to be explained in the year 2035). Fearing discovery by authorities, Adaline was forced to live on the run, changing identities and residences every ten years. She shunned all forms of human relationships as much she could avoid, with only her daughter Flemming knowing her secret.
However, on New Year's Eve 2014, under her current name of Jennifer Larson, Adaline meets the charismatic young man named Ellis Jones. As Adaline falls for his charms, her deep-seated fears once again surface. Will she abandon Ellis again as she did several other men in her past and deny herself happiness? Or will she finally abandon her apprehensions and settle down with a man she loves?
This is a film about a woman with eternal youth. Thankfully, this is NOT about a vampire again. The approach of this very charming film is dramatic romance, with fantasy as its fanciful embellishment. The production design, costume and hair/makeup people have their work cut out for them as they had to painstakingly recreate each and every decade in Adaline's life. Their meticulous work deserve awards consideration as these were of excellent quality, enhancing this film's timeless theme.
Blake Lively portrayed Adaline Bowman as a strong, refined, dignified lady, not prone to hysterics. She has to convey all her inner turmoil with her eyes and her beautiful face. I believe she pulled it off very well, and she brings us along with her charmed life with its difficult decisions. This film rides on her shoulders and she carries it with grace and confidence. It also helps that she has a timeless beauty that fit in any of the time periods her character was in. She must have been a dream-come-true for those costume and makeup guys as she can carry any look gorgeously.
Playing the wealthy and cultured philanthropist Ellis Jones is Dutch actor Michiel Huisman. I know this actor as the new Daario Naharis, the Khaleesi's consort on Season 4 of "Game of Thrones." He projects a goofy charm about him. His chemistry with Blake Lively was not immediately electric, but it steadily developed as the film went along. When he gratuitously appeared onscreen only clad in a towel with his chest and abs exposed, you knew that this film was primarily targeted for the ladies.
Harrison Ford plays Ellis' father William, an astronomer who is celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife Kathy (Kathy Baker). Ellis brought Adaline (as Jennifer) home with him to celebrate his parents' life milestone. But when William sees Adaline, ... I will not say more. Suffice it to say that Harrison Ford gives the best and most memorable performance of his recent career in this film since his star dimmed in the past two decades. I hope his work here will not be forgotten come awards season.
Ellen Burstyn is delightful as Adaline's daughter Flemming in her senior years. When daughter began to look older than mother, they were forced to live apart. Her best scene was that when Adaline introduces her to Ellis for the first time. Her face spoke volumes of emotion pent up through the years and it was so beautiful to witness.
As told by director Lee Toland Krieger, Adaline's story was shown as a series of flashbacks intercutting with present-day scenes when memories were triggered by current situations. It employs a voice-over narration which sounded very much like what you would hear on an old documentary film reel. The effect was a bit confusing at first, but you would get used to this voice as it interjects itself to explain odd circumstances.
I liked how it mixed in historical facts and places in San Francisco to drive the story along. The pseudo-scientific jargon explanations were inventive, fictional as they were. At least it wasnt another vampire's bite or witch's spell that caused this to happen. There are some funny lines subtly delivered here and there to lighten up the mood. Best of these was when Flemming was commenting how very few photographs Adaline had, and Adaline quipped, "You've seen one, you've seen them all."
I am not really a fan of romance films. However, this one caught my attention because of its time-bending theme and historical touches in its storytelling. Ladies will like this love story and its heroine quite instinctively. Their dates will also have interesting things to see, the lovely face and striking silhouette of Blake Lively not being the least of them. 8/10.