Humans have always been obsessed with life and prolonging it. Medicine has continued to evolve to the point where humans are living longer and longer as a result. Mortality or even immortality has always been of keen interest. As a result there have been many films that have dealt with the subject. Films like Jacob’s Ladder, The Fountain, Cocoon, and plenty of vampire films like Interview With the Vampire have investigated the subject. It is like it is part of our DNA to try and achieve everlasting life while it scares us at the same time.
Lee Toland Krieger (Celeste and Jesse Forever) is the latest director to tackle the subject of not growing old. He learns (along with the viewer) that this type of film comes with its own very particular set of issues. Just as being a human and not growing any older as everyone else around you does.
After a car accident Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively – Green Lantern, The Town) undergoes a particular set of occurrences that lead to her never aging a day again. On the surface this sounds wonderful, what humans seem to want, to live forever. In reality, Adaline stays the same age, 29, while everyone else around her ages, including her daughter, Flemming (Cate Richardson).
Soon Adaline finds out that her not aging has gained the attention of the FBI. After narrowly eluding them she realizes she is going to have to live a life on the run. Adaline begins to live a life where she does not make very many friends and changes locations every decade or so. She makes sure that she stays within a short distance of her now elderly daughter, Flemming (Ellen Burstyn – Interstellar, The Exorcist). A solitary existence forced by circumstances.
While living in San Francisco as Jennifer Larson and working at city archives she meets philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman – from television’s Game of Thrones). Ellis is quite taken with Adaline and despite her hesitancy Adaline finds herself involved with Ellis. Things get complicated when he takes her to his parents’ house for their 40th anniversary party and Ellis’ father William (Harrison Ford – Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner) is someone from Adaline’s past.
A romantic fantasy film requires a couple of elements to make it successful. First, is chemistry between the two leads and in this case Blake Lively and Michiel Huisman have precious little. This sort of derails the entire story. Makes for us not caring whether they overcome their obstacles to be together. Second, is a female and male protagonist that we like. While Adaline and Ellis are both pretty likeable, though Adaline is rather snooty and frosty, neither is memorable in any way. Ellis is kind of a cookie cutter character that seems to have been thrown together based on what every woman wants and we really don’t get to know anything about what Adaline is like despite the fact that she is the main character.
The best parts of the film are the two veteran actors who for the short times they are on the screen make you forget the rest of the mess. Ellen Burstyn and Harrison Ford do what they can by turning in good performances, but they cannot plug this sinking ship. I was particularly happy with Ford’s turn as it is his best in years. He shows that he can still bring the fire and passion to the screen that he built his career on.
Blake Lively is a bit of a mystery for me. The camera loves her and she is a likeable and capable actress and yet her career has never really taken off. After coming to our attention via the small hit The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and she then became a moderate star on television’s Gossip Girl. Since then she has done bad film after bad film. Basically she is better known for her cutting edge fashion sense and that she is married to Ryan Reynolds. You would have thought that some casting director would be able to plop her down in a film that would best use her assets and raise her profile. This is not the film that is going to do it as it is another mediocre venture to be added to her curriculum vitae. Here’s to hoping that her upcoming Woody Allen film changes all that.
If we look beyond that the explanation offered up for Adaline’s not aging is ridiculous and that this woman who no man can seem to resist is rather boring this is still a film that is of the quality of all those painful Nicholas Sparks’ romances.