Given the elegant inexpressiveness of its aesthetics and the character at its center, a young woman who, having stopped aging almost 80 years ago following a horrific car accident, lives in a perpetual state of performance, The Age of Adaline could just as easily have been called The Curious Case of Adaline Bowman. Yet director Lee Toland Kreiger’s self-conscious vision doesn’t have the anxious contours of David Fincher’s sense of style. The artful aloofness of the film’s images may align with Adaline’s (Blake Lively) reticence toward anyone who might learn her real age, and thus force her to relocate again from her native San Francisco, yet they aren’t truly keyed to her seeking of the eternal in the ephemeral. Still, this gracefully wonky melodrama is enlivened by droll bits of narrative business, beginning with the narrator who opines that it won’t be until 2035 that science will explain how water and lightning conspired to keep Adaline forever young. Later, after this fetching librarian puts her dog down, she pastes a photo of the pooch into an album alongside other pictures of previous pets—and that they’re all similar breeds points to her need for constancy. As in Only Lovers Left Alive, there are dalliances with nostalgia, yet there’s less a sense of them as reckonings with the boredom of unlimited time than easily, if agreeably, sentimental displays of narrative-building. After finally agreeing to date Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), a handsome young philanthropist, she takes him to a chop shop that was once a movie theater and still has a constellation of stars drawn on its ceiling—and later, after agreeing to go to his parents to celebrate their 40-year anniversary, it’s revealed that Adaline shares a past with Ellis’s astronomer father, William (Harrison Ford). But rather than embrace the thorny, increasingly looney nature of Adaline’s existential crisis, the film retreats from it in much the same way she does from love, resolving her angst with such a conventional sense of resolution that Age of Adaline reveals itself not as a sincerely kooky elegy to lost time, but just a slightly off-kilter acting out of familiar rom-com bona fides about commitment-phobes missing out on life.
- Lee Toland Krieger
- J. Mills Goodloe, Salvador Paskowitz
- Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, Kathy Baker, Amanda Crew
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