What I'm Watching: The Age of Adaline
Maybe I should start reviewing things with some sort of cohesion, but I've another random 'What I'm Watching' for you today. I finally caught The Age of Adaline on TV last night, a film that interested me when it first came out but I never got around to seeing. AoA is the story of a young woman, Adaline Bowman, who remains eternally youthful after a near-death experience halts her aging process. To keep her secret and thereby her freedom (from being a 'curiosity') she keeps herself to herself and changes her identity every decade. But her resolution is tested when she meets Michiel Huisman's Ellis (Game of Thrones, Nashville). Will she tell him the truth?
There were two main reasons I wanted to see this film, originally. One was that the role of Adaline seemed made for Blake Lively. I always think she comes across as a bit of an old soul, and obviously she's going to look fabulous in all the different period clothes. But first and foremost, I was curious about those flashbacks. Harrison Ford plays an old flame from Adaline's past, but who's that playing his younger self? Was it a look-alike or is it CGI, like Audrey Hepburn in the Galaxy advert? They look freakishly similar. Turns out he was an impressionist (Anthony Ingruber) and he looks like him too - it's very clever casting.
So they were my reasons for watching the film, but what did I think having seen it? I liked AoA overall, although I can see why it didn't get rave reviews. I thought it tried to be a bit too clever and philosophical, when really it was romantic fluff. There's nothing wrong with romantic fluff, but it took itself too seriously. I thought the whole beginning was a bit 'tell not show' and I didn't think we needed faux-scientific explanations for Adaline's 'condition'. They'd have been better sticking to magical realism if you ask me (we all know it's not real science, so why bore us with it?) Basically, the narration was my main problem with the film. There was so much exposition I assumed it must be based on a novel, and they were trying to cram in all the background stuff to be faithful to the plot. But there is no book - it's an original screenplay. Which is cool, but also a bit sad, since I would have liked to have read the book!
Pickiness aside, there was a lot I liked about The Age of Adaline. The film has an old-fashioned, whimsical feel, it's romantic and there are some great performances. The critics praised both Blake Lively and Harrison Ford, and I'd agree 100%. Blake Lively reminded me here why I'd loved her in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, despite playing a very different role. Her acting was definitely back on form and she was totally convincing as an older lady in a young woman's body. She's very stately and gentle, and when dressed up she oozes old-Hollywood glamour (can you tell I've got a girl crush?) I particularly liked the first scene between Adaline and her elderly daughter, it was cleverly written and the relationship was weirdly believable. Although Lively was great however, Harrison Ford was the standout, proving his star quality in a subtle and engaging performance (I thought anyway!) as William. You felt the chemistry between his character and Adaline without it being creepy and the scenes between William and his wife (Kathy Baker) I found really touching.
I didn't think The Age of Adaline was wildly original or gripping, but it was an interesting concept with some lovely scenes (I liked the Trivial Pursuit bit!) great acting and pretty clothes! It was a bit different too, not the kind of film you'd expect to be made nowadays, although the plot did feel familiar in some ways. I guess themes of immortality and having to hide your real identity are explored in a lot of fantasy, Twilight being one example. If you like romantic dramas though, I'd definitely give The Age of Adaline a try. It was cute.
So many great outfits!
Have you seen The Age of Adaline? What did you think?