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The Age of Adaline

by DAN LYBARGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette | April 24, 2015 at 2:18 a.m.
Blake Lively stars as ‘Adaline Bowman’ in THE AGE OF ADALINE. Photo Credit: Diyah Pera

The Age of Adaline is not really a movie. It's more like two movies fighting for the same screen at the same time. On one hand, it has a juicy setup. The script by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz thoughtfully explores the pros and cons of living forever. It's too bad they didn't devote the same mental effort toward the limp romance that keeps intruding.

As the title character, Blake Lively plays a 107-year-old-woman who has spent the last two centuries killing trivia games while hiding the fact that she has outlived nearly everyone she has ever known.

The Age of Adaline

80 Cast: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Amanda Crew, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, Richard Harmon, Kathy Baker, Mark Ghanime, Anthony Ingruber

Director: Lee Toland Krieger

Rating: PG-13, for a suggestive comment

Running time: 110 minutes

While her face has gone decades looking the same as it did when she was 29, people started getting suspicious when she reached her mid-40s and looked younger than her daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn).

With no desire to be treated like a lab rat by people trying to figure out her secret, Adaline changes identities every 10 years or so to prevent those who'd like to exploit her.

One reason she can walk through the streets of San Francisco is that she avoids emotional attachments. Only Flemming, who's well past retirement age, and a blind pianist know her real story. Over the years she has turned down or bailed on lots of promisingly hunky suitors because she senses they wouldn't like knowing her unique predicament.

When Goodloe and Paskowitz concentrate on how Adaline struggles to get through outliving legions of pets, The Age of Adaline is intriguing. While the stentorian voice-over explaining how she came to be Dorian Gray without a hidden, rotting portrait gets tiresome quickly, the screenwriters give her lots of genuine historical data to spout, and they've figured out all sorts of clever ways for her to hide her unending youth the way the rest of us try to deny our impending mortality.

Lively manages to come off as a mature soul trapped in a youthful visage, so the film's central conceit works. If she weren't able to spout out multiple languages or quirks of Bay Area geography, the movie wouldn't be believable, even as a fantasy.

It's too bad the filmmakers seem more interested in whether the immaculately dolled-up Lively is paired with the right mate.

Ellis (Dutch actor Michiel Huisman) has a small fortune, donates to historical preservation charities and has a finely sculpted belly. Nonetheless, he seems an odd choice for eternal affection because he practically stalks the understandably shy Adaline.

Harrison Ford shows up later in the film and manages to liven it up. The movie starts taking itself a little less seriously and begins to examine the downside of outlasting one's enemies or lovers.

While an eternity alone would be a type of hell, it's a shame that Goodloe and Paskowitz couldn't come up with rival suitors or even ones who don't seem crafted from a wish list. For a love story to work, the audience has to feel the same unquenchable desire as Adaline. That's a little hard when she doesn't have a biological clock forcing her to be less choosy. As handsome as Ellis might be, she still comes off like she's settling with him.

In the end, the "what if" scenario trumps the quest for a soul mate. Eternity is a lot to sacrifice for a wedding ring.

MovieStyle on 04/24/2015

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