Today’s film world is teeming with lesser-known directors looking to make a name for themselves at any cost. Often employing cheap cheats solely to make it big at the box office, these producers sacrifice substance and ingenuity for attention-grabbing gimmicks by casting certain stars simply to secure their fanbase or capitalize on cliche storyline concepts. Consequently, the quality of feature films have plummeted significantly in recent years, as this particular sub-population of producers churn out film after film of stock scenes and star-studded disappointments.
And so, upon viewing the trailers for The Age of Adaline―a film whose genre can only be described as a fusion of drama, romance, and magic realism―entertainment critic senses were tingling as I cringed at what I assumed to be the next non-deserving box office smash that owes its thanks only to the hordes of teenage girls drawn in by the promise of Blake Lively as the star of a sappy love story. You’ve got Blake Lively (a beautiful and confident actress who every teenage girl wants to be and who every adolescent male wants to date), a quirky and caring love interest (who just happens to be the dreamy, sensitive guy of every single girl’s dreams), elements of magic embedded in the storyline, and arguably the most adorable dog ever to be cast in a movie.
The Age of Adeline is a surprisingly enchanting story with a predictable premise and hackneyed focus on immortality that in no way reflects the film’s actually impressive quality. Boasting a stellar cast whose onscreen chemistry, effortlessly delivered dialogue, and an awe-inspiring art direction, the movie succeeds in captivating even the most critical of viewers.
Blake Lively shines as the beautiful Adaline Bowman, a mild-mannered 28-year-old, in 1935, whose life is altered drastically after a car accident sends her careening off of the road and into a freezing lake. Somehow, the lightning bolt combined with Adaline’s hypothermic body temperature creates an anti-aging phenomenon in which Adaline is impervious to the physical effects of aging. Fearing that her secret will be revealed―sparking a great discussion and unwanted attention―Adaline decides to assimilate herself into a nomadic lifestyle. Changing her identity and information every decade, Adaline is constantly on the run and in fear of being discovered. Vowing that she will not speak of her immortal essence to anyone besides her daughter, Adaline develops trust issues and keeps her guard up whenever someone new walks into her life.
In an attempt to avoid the heartbreak that she is so accustomed to experiencing as a result of her impermanent lifestyle, Adaline leads a lonely life in which she associates only with her daughter, her dog, and her best friend―a blind woman who is oblivious to Adaline’s odd condition.
As if on cue, an intelligent and witty Ellis Jones (played by Michiel Huisman) enters the scene, and Adaline’s emotions are predictably conflicted. Tired of keeping her secret and wanting to open her heart to love again, Adaline eventually warms up to the prospect of dating again. After some elevator small-talk and a few cheesy pick-up lines, Adaline is hooked.
The movie’s art direction was astoundingly accurate, as Adaline’s immortality required the recreation of eight different decades. Each scene was illuminated by the predominant colors and styles of each decade, and viewers could easily follow the progression of time simply because of the crew’s accuracy and determinate attention to detail. From props to decor to beautiful decade-specific clothing, the artistic teams responsible for such painstaking details passed with flying colors.
One of the most notable aspects of the film was the actors’ performances. Lively’s portrayal of the refined Adaline is flawless, as she perfectly captures the vintage charm and old soul of an experienced and sophisticated woman trapped in a 28-year-old’s body. Her chemistry with Huisman is palpable, as they play off of each other surprisingly well in every scene. Harrison Ford delivers his lines naturally and genuinely, identifying him as perfect for his role and an excellent addition to the cast.
Yet there emerged one salient aspect of the film that unquestionably surmounted all others. The cinematography and artistic decisions are phenomenal. Experimenting with light and unconventional camera shots throughout the movie, Krieger succeeds in captivating the viewer’s attention and establishing himself as a promising young director whose ingenuity and vision gives hope to an industry that has recently run dry of such innovation.
Some presumptions criticizing Age of Adeline were completely shattered by an A-plus performance from each of the cast members. Each scene achieved the charming tone intended by Krieger, and little quips of humor peppered throughout the predominantly serious movie made for some much-needed moments of comic relief. Complete with well-crafted montages of Adaline Bowman’s tumultuous life experiences through the lens of a camera, The Age of Adaline is a heartwarming romance that deviates beautifully from the trite and sappy love stories brought to the silver screen by today’s Hollywood mediocrity.
Featured Image Courtesy of Lionsgate