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Age of Adaline - Film Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published January 14th 2022
Toxic masculinity is timeless
Age of Adaline, Netflix, Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman
Michiel Huisman and Blake Lively as Ellis and Adaline.

Adaline Bowman is a young woman living is San Francisco in the early 1900s when she is involved in an accident that cause her to become immune to the effects of ageing. Over time, people start to notice her unchanging looks and she begins reinventing herself with a new identity every decade to escape scrutiny. When she meets a young man and falls in love, Adaline must decide whether to stay with him even if they can't grow old together, or leave and break his heart.

Age of Adaline (2015) is an American fantasy/romance film directed by Lee Toland Krieger. This film came up when I was looking for vampire movies. It isn't one, but I can the logic of grouping it together with them since it does involve immortality and the way it could sometimes be a curse rather than a blessing. Having established that it wasn't the kind of film I was looking for I watched it anyway because I'm on holiday, so why not? Bearing in mind that I'm not exactly the target audience, I thought Age of Adaline was an okay romance. It didn't quite hit the right romantic notes for my liking, but it was very pretty to watch.

First I will cover the bad parts:

The explanation for Adaline's ceasing to age was silly, like the Star Wars prequels saying that the Jedi could use the force because of 'midiclorians' in their blood. If the pseudo-scientific explanation is going to be that bad I wish writers would just say "it's magic" and move on.

Another reason this film annoyed me a little was that it compares unfavourably with Orlando (1992), which also had an eternally youthful protagonist, but with some other interesting themes going on, plus Tilda Swinton, who I will happily watch in anything. It's probably unfair to compare the two, but that's what was in the back of my mind watching Age of Adaline.

Then there was the romance itself. I really wish movies would stop depicting men's relentless pursuit of uninterested women as romantic. When Adaline first met Ellis his behaviour (such as sticking his hand into the lift to get in with her as the door was closing, and grabbing the door of the taxi as she was leaving after she had repeatedly said she didn't want him to wait with her) was aggressive and creepy. Then later, after he tracks her down at work, he childishly threatens not to give the first edition books he was planning to donate to the library unless she will have her photo taken with him or go out with him.

Even if you're handsome, rich and clever you should still respect people's boundaries. But the movie would have us believe that this behaviour is ultimately justified. After he tracks down her home address and turns up at her building out of the blue, Adaline, who has just had to have her beloved elderly dog put to sleep, snaps at him that he should have waited for her to contact him. Yes, he absolutely should! But instead of Ellis seeing the error or his overbearing ways, Adaline ends up apologising to him.

Harrison Ford, Age of Adaline, William, Netflix, movies about eternal youth, movies about immortality
Harrison Ford as William.

Now on to the good aspects of the movie:

Firstly, it's very pretty to look at, with lots of vintage and retro clothing and authentic-looking flashback scenes. Then there is the acting. Blake Lively (of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and A Simple Favour) is lovely as the accomplished and resourceful Adaline, but it was Harrison Ford and Anthony Ingruber who really stole the show. Harrison Ford plays William, a man who fell for Adaline in the '60s and meets her again by chance in the present day. He's so full of longing and loss that I just wanted to give him a hug. Anthony Ingruber (whose first claim to fame was uploading his Han Solo impression to YouTube) plays the young William, and reproduces Harrison Ford's voice and mannerisms with astonishing accuracy.

Age of Adaline, young William, Netflix, Harrison Ford, William Ingruber
Anthony Ingruber as the young William.

Overall, Age of Adaline is a watchable fantasy romance that is a bit of a treat for Harrison Ford fans.
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