A film of otherworldly beauty but unfortunately that is not enough.
The fact that The Age of Adaline is not a film adaptation of a novel is baffling, given the whimsical and romanticized subject matter. The final product created for audiences shows an overly simplistic story lacking robust characters and complex subplots.
Adaline Bowman, played by the breathtaking Blake Lively, is a wife, mother at the brink of experiencing all life has to offer. She survives a miraculous accident that leaves her frozen in time at the youthfully tender age of 29. Through the decades she maneuvers with ease, avoiding detection, by keeping herself at a distance from everyone but her daughter. That is, until she meets a philanthropically and complex man who penetrates her distant exterior and unleashes her dormant capacity for love. A weekend with his parents, however, has unforeseen but potentially devastating effects to her camouflage and threatens to expose the truth of her life and history.
Audience members are to believe that Adaline, who goes by several names as she journeys agelessly through the substantial years, has lived for near a century. Not only are we to believe it, but director Lee Toland Krieger literally shows us this very fact through dreary exposition within twenty minutes of the film. This rudimentary story telling, which may also be attributed to the screenwriters of the film, yields a painfully boring and lifeless core plot that does nothing to engage viewers’ attentions.
Krieger’s previous films had a gritty realness and dark subplot to the narratives. Perhaps that is why he fails to connect with the subject matter and adds little to the dialogue in the form of substantial story telling through a vision. Alternatively, perhaps he was so captivated by the actress playing the wondrous muse worthy of adoration across a century that he felt there needn’t be more to show.
Lively truly is beautiful in the film, but a mere mannequin to bring to life the talents of the costume and make up designers associated with the project. The production and costume design is a bit literal at times, overly vintage-inspired in a completely implausible manner, as is her hair. It makes her garb strikingly dated looking and more inspired by than a reflection of the time periods they are to represent.
Slow, dreary and lifeless, basically you just watch for the beauty of Blake Lively in all facets. She has a wonderful composure throughout the film where you do believe her to be learned in an old soul kind of way, but perhaps that is simply due to her character’s reticence. Unfortunately, rudimentary story telling through voice over exposition and montages yields a tedious narrative.
There are parts of The Age of Adaline that is reminiscent of other romantic films, like Big Fish or Across the Universe or One Day or The Time Traveler’s Wife, but in more ways it reminds Archon Cinema Reviews of last year’s Winter’s Tale. Both films have potential through rich wonder, fantasy and romanticism, but the final product falls so short of its potential that the film is disappointing and a missed opportunity.