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Movie review: The Age of Adaline

Ros Hull

After miraculously remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman lives a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might discover her secret.” imdb

I cannot say this was an exciting film – but I don’t think it was even intended for the edge-of-the-seat crowd.

It is romantic but I do not think that the Nicholas Sparks-ites will find this as cathartic or gooey as the films of his books usually are. It is not weird enough to be sci-fi but it has a speculative element so it isn’t plain drama.

Nor is it a tearjerker either, but prepare for loss … of a pet. In short, it would be really easy to be flip about it and dismiss it. However I think it is very interesting on several levels.

Firstly, it is gorgeous to look at and the costuming is superb. Adaline’s clothing, make up and hair change to reflect the decade she is living in but her underlying style belongs to her ‘home’ era and she wears it with elegance and restraint. It is no understatement to say I wanted everything she wore.

Secondly it is a great showcase for Blake Lively (or as my girls call her, after endless seasons of Gossip Girl – Boobs Legsely). She is not even in the list of the first 20 actresses I think could hold a film together singlehandedly – yet her aloof, slightly spacey and refined portrayal of a woman who doesn’t age is pretty darn good.

Thirdly, there is Harrison Ford. This is some of the best work he has done in years – sad and happy at once, overwhelmed at seeing a ghost yet deeply in love with the woman he is married to. Kathy Baker, as that wife, puts in a classy support performance, as does Ellen Burstyn as the old daughter of a young mother. Her scenes with Blake Lively are some of the best in the whole piece.

And then there is Michiel Huisman – who? Are you enjoying Orphan Black? He’s Kira’s dad. Love a little Game of Thrones? He is Daenerys’ Second Sons squeeze Daario Naharis. He was also in Treme and Nashville. Busy boy. And definitely worth letting go of immortality to be with.

However.

There is the science that doesn’t add up (and remember it’s me saying this … and I am prepared to suspend disbelief for Norse gods, fairies, aliens and ghosts).

There are plot holes I could drive a car through and there is the most annoying narrator. I assume his initial role was to explain the pseudo-science, but he also tells you what is happening, even though you can see it for yourself. And he adds unnecessary detail. And he does all this in the most glib, patronising tone. Think Amelie’s narrator using a train timetable, giving directions on how to peel an egg.

So I guess I descended into being flip after all. Oh well.

Let me raise the tone a little to finish. This is a worthy exercise in making a film about a woman who does not find her raison d’etre in a man but in learning to let go of fear and live her life. It may not be great but it is interesting.

Ros Hull

Ros saw Star Wars and immediately wanted to fly the Millenium Falcon. Unable to do that she became a Jill-of-all-trades as her army husband whirled her around the world – and back to Canberra 10 years ago. She has worked in public programs and museum education ever since. She gained an MA in writing whilst getting two daughters through high school - both are now at university and undeniably fabulous (according to her). She can worry as an Olympic sport so she sees lots of movies instead. More about the Author

  • Heather

    As a devotee of the work of Mr Huisman, I will stick to his geek work, although the idea of Daario Naaharis and Han Solo/Indiana Jones together is appealing…

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