God romance movies suck lately…

There’s something so tiring about the same movie over and over again, two middle-class white people meet with love at first sight. Go on a few dates, hit a minuscule obstacle and stumble, have a few crying sessions and make up. I have now described every Nicholas Sparks novel and movie ever made, including The Longest Ride. There’s a certain difference that comes across even in the trailer for The Age of Adaline. I saw that it was a romance film, but I was far more interested in the time expansion that came with Adaline Bowman’s (Blake Lively) life through her immortality. I was grateful enough to see an initial effort to put a new twist on a tired genre, and I really need Lively to really showcase her talents that have been missing since the end of Gossip Girl, but is it just another tired romance film disguising itself as something new?

I think calling this film a “romance” film simply undersells it too much.

The Age of Adaline is first and foremost a sci-fi/fantasy film, with a love story attached to the film, but not so badly à la Jupier Ascending and Blackhat, enough to believe, which is far more impressive than some “romance” films of late. Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman, a 107 year old woman suffering from immortality, is absolutely radiant in this film, in more ways than one. Lively is undeniably one of the most beautiful women on Earth, right up there with Margot Robbie, Alicia Vikander and Charlize Theron, but Lively is radiant in her likability and talent in her character. Her character exudes the aura of a 1940’s woman, which is obviously fitting, but does so with an ease and nicety that isn’t seen much in actresses of her caliber. One of the best parts of The Age of Adaline is that the film focuses far more on Adaline and her life than that of the romance in the film, giving Lively so much more breathing room and more opportunity to truly flaunt her talent. Lively has never been better, and this is the film she’s truly needed.

The Age of Adaline doesn’t pull a Forrest Gump and bombard you with the important events of each individual time period that Adaline has lived in, and doesn’t make an effort to shoehorn all the time periods in either. It simply attempts to get the aura of each time period shown across, and only focuses on the time periods in which something truly notable happened in her life. It’s a nice touch not to stuff 107 years worth of history down our throat.

Michiel Huisman is our main love interest, Ellis Jones. Ellis is a philanthropist who came across a fortune when his college roommate stuck gold on an idea and sold it for both of them. I liked Huisman as well, because he isn’t a typical pretty boy like Scott Eastwood was in The Longest Ride, he had substance about him, and while his character could’ve been developed more, with the amount of time given to the romance storyline outside of Adaline’s life, I can’t complain if a movie decides to put a romance storyline to second best.

Director Lee Toland Krieger did something nice with the directing, he made sure to be able to distinguish between time periods without always having to explain itself, through its usage of stylistic color timing and homages to films of these time periods, The Age of Adaline is a beautiful and expansive universe, simply because it’s our own, leaving it up to the audience to dive into the psyche of the immortal Adaline.

There are two fairly glaring issues with The Age of Adaline, I found that the narration of the film by Hugh Ross took the audience as idiots, feeling the need to explain many different things throughout the film as if the audience couldn’t pick up on these fairly obvious things happening on screen. I found that if the narration was limited only to its opening dialogue, the film would’ve largely benefited from a much subtler, open-ended film.

I also found the presence of Harrison Ford fairly disconcerting. Ford plays the father of Ellis, and of course, is the older equivalent of a past love in Adaline’s life. The inclusion of this last twist turns this portion of the plot into schmaltz, when the previous chapters had stayed fairly free of egregious clichés, this one part reveled in it like a timeless version of Grease. It’s never a loss to have Ford in your film, but sometimes the character behind it does fall into gooey schmaltz.

If one more of my friends tells me to watch Gossip Girl, I’m going to scream. I get it, it’s a good show, everyone has to be great, but let me take my time watching it. Now, I can at least now attest to the talent of Lively, who has tried to jump start herself into a legitimate film career, but usually fell short, and now, we have a contender for her best performance to date, Lively is…well, lively. The Age of Adaline is a light and innocent, barely passing into PG-13 territory, but the film is expansive and lovely, forgoing clichés for an original twist rather than a straightforward romance. The film is schmaltzy a few times, but the thought provoking ideas posed in the film and Lively’s performance are easily enough to make it one of the better modern romances, without having to manipulate the audience with quriky cancer patients, smoldering bull riders or a dystopian society.

4/5

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
Starring: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Kathy Baker, with Harrison Ford and Ellen Burstyn.
Runtime: 110 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for a suggestive comment.

Lionsgate, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Lakeshore Entertainment present, a Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Lakeshore Entertainment, Lionsgate production, The Age of Adaline

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Hunter is the current editor-in-chief for The Niner Times. He is a senior Communications major who wishes he were a dog and wants to pet your dog if you have one. Hunter has been a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) since August 2015. Hunter has been the editor-in-chief since May 2016. Please do not hesitate to shoot him an e-mail at editor@ninertimes.com for any questions or concerns and he'll be sure to get back to you ASAP.

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