After a difficult start with the comings and goings of numerous directors and stars, including Katherine Heigl and Natalie Portman, this epic romantic drama about a woman who remains aged 29 for almost eight decades finally sees the light of day with Blake Lively in the lead role.
The Gossip Girl actresses turns out to be an inspired choice as Adaline, with Lively doing an exceptional job holding the story together, especially given its unusual twist. Widowed with a child at 29, Adaline is the only passenger in a car accident in 1935 in which a freak series of events renders her ageless.
A rather annoying narrator explains Adaline's condition will be explained in the future by science; meanwhile it's up to director Lee Toland Krieger (Celeste and Jesse Forever) to convince us to suspend our disbelief and go with the flow.
It's harder than it sounds, but while this romantic drama verges at times on what you'd expect from a Nicholas Sparks adaptation, the great casting, production design and art direction aid the cause. Lively has the perfect ageless look that allows her to seamlessly move across decades. Even in the present day, Adaline's hair resembles styles from earlier eras, and her stylish wardrobe defies age or trend. Similarly, the art direction is well thought out, with Adaline's homes tastefully decorated with treasures from the past and present.
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More importantly, Lively gives Adaline a grace and wisdom that helps us buy into this far-fetched story. Ellen Burstyn is also unwavering in her role as Adaline's ageing daughter, and they have a lovely connection on screen.
The chemistry is more forced when it comes to Adaline's latest love interest, Ellis, a young philanthropist besotted with Adaline, played by Nashville's Michiel Huisman. They meet as Adaline is preparing to move city and take on a new identity, something she's done every decade to hide her secret, and Huisman seems clumsy and desperate next to the composed Lively.
The relationship is more convincing by the time Ellis takes Adaline to the country to meet his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker), where Adaline has an experience that convinces her to stop running and start living.
Yes, The Age of Adaline ends pretty much how you'd expect and takes a little long getting there, but will appeal to those who enjoy their romances delivered with a touch of history, and a little magical realism.
Cast: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Running Time: 113 mins
Rating: M (Sexual references)
Verdict: Nicely acted and stylish looking -- but too far-fetched to be convincing.