Great performances by Blake Lively and Harrison Ford wasted in flawed chick flick with familiar concept and poor narrative
(Warning: This review may contain spoilers.)
Like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), The Bicentennial Man (1999) and many other films, The Age of Adaline is about one's sad lonely life without romance due to the character's inability to age like a normal human being. Blake Lively plays the titular protagonist, Adaline Bowman, a widowed mother who stops aging at 29 after her car crashes into the water during a rare snowfall followed by a lightning strike. It sounds even more unconvincingly coincidental than the origin stories of superheroes, doesn't it? Well that's only one of the few things that's unintentionally funny about this fantasy romance drama.
The film, directed by Lee Toland Krieger (Celeste and Jesse Forever, The Vicious Kind), uses a documentary-like reel with an emotionless non-character narrator (Hugh Ross) to quickly flip-through and explain 107 years of Adaline's life, which is bad idea unless the film is confident that the audience would automatically emotionally invest and care for the protagonist without the need of depicting her life and hardship before and after the accident. Anyway, due to her immortality, she had to leave her daughter and change her identity as she fears that the government would come hunting for her. She refuses to fall in love again until one night at a party she attended to meet a blind friend who never appears again in the film after this scene, Adaline meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), a wealthy handsome man who just won't give up courting her.
In most of the films with similar concept or themes, the characters are designed and patiently depicted in a way the audience would be emotionally engaged to sympathise with their situation, but not this one. How is Adaline's condition considered a "tragedy"? I mean, how hard could it be to live forever looking like Blake Lively? She's able to easily escape and hide from the government, and she's being courted by a model version of Steve Jobs who's kind, good looking, rich and has a kick-ass beard. And how awesome would it be if you're her husband?
The pretentiously cheesy script (written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvatore Paskowitz) makes the first half of the film seems as though it's trying to show how rich guys get hot sophisticated ladies to bed. The film has failed to depict a real romance. Instead, it's more like lust at first sight and a 107-year-old woman who's desperate for the companionship of a young, well-off man. And if Adaline really doesn't want to be noticed, why doesn't she make an effort to look less gorgeous? There are more flaws than I'm willing to mention here.
Despite the poor narrative and script, the beautiful visuals and charming performances of the cast were able to save the film from being unbearable. Blake Likely manages to portray an irresistible elegance, sophistication and torment to go along with that beauty of hers. Harrison Ford's performance as Ellis' father, William, is perhaps his best since Air Force One (1997). The twist, if it's considered as one, is just as uninspiring as the film's unoriginal concept. If you haven't seen or heard who Robin Williams' character marries at the end of The Bicentennial Man, or who Jacob "imprints" on at the end of the Twilight Saga, you may find this romance very wrong.
The ending is not only predictable, it also brings back that mood-spoiling documentary toned narrator in attempt to cushion the fairy tale-like miracle. What is this? Disney? There's just nothing much to feel sad about for Adaline other than her frustratingly stupid decisions. The film would've been compelling if William was the protagonist instead with a narrative to depicts Adaline disappearing from his life when he was young and then he meets someone looks exactly like her 50 years later. Also, the film would've had some actual drama if a character dies, like Adaline's aging daughter instead of her pets.
Malaysia censorship: A pretty clean PG13 chick flick. Nothing was cut for the press screening but if they're really going to censor anything, it'd only be the kissing, which I doubt.
Second opinion: My girlfriend cried in the final act, and said that the film is very touching. Well done, chick flick.
Verdict: Unoriginal, cheesy and uncompelling, but thanks to the performances of the cast, it's not unwatchable.
Rating: 2 / 5
Genre: Romance fantasy drama
Running Time: 110 minutes
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Screenwriters: J. Mills Goodloe, Salvador Paskowitz
Cast: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn
Malaysia Release Date: 14 May 2015
Local Distributor: GSC Movies
Production: Lakeshore Entertainment, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, RatPac-Dune Entertainment
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