Adaline Marie Bowman (Blake Lively) grew up in San Francisco during the early 1900s, leading a rather unexceptional life. She married Clarence James Prescott and had a baby girl, but soon lost her husband during the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. Ten months later, she was involved in a car crash that induced an anoxic reflex and shock as her vehicle plunged into an icy lake. As if by divine intervention, a lightning bolt struck the water, defibrillating her heart and reviving her for a swift, full recovery. However, the incident also curiously affected her metabolism and cell behaviors, completely preventing her from aging.
After much research, Adaline comes to the conclusion that there is no scientific explanation for her condition. Her only hope for survival, as well as a somewhat normal life for her daughter, is to elude the authorities, keep moving around, and to change her name, residence, and appearance every decade. She succeeds for approximately 60 years, exhausting the use of alias Jennifer Larsen – a library archivist at the San Francisco Heritage Society – and planning for her new identity as Susan Fleischer at the very end of 2014. But a chance meeting with Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), a software developer and philanthropist, during a New Year’s party, stirs her innermost desire to form a meaningful, lasting relationship with someone capable of understanding and perhaps coping with her agelessness.
The wealthy bachelor scenario paired with Adaline’s own prosperous dealings and identity mysteriousness throughout the years imparts a decidedly teen-oriented vampire movie premise, adorned with a differentiating tone of old-fashioned sensibilities and maturer personas. In many ways, “The Age of Adaline” feels like a romantic drama from the ‘90s. With all its unusual sanitation towards more commonplace, edgy eroticism, the result is entirely the typical love banter and comedic flirtations that unfold in overly sentimental, boilerplate ensemble pieces.
Although there is plenty of footage to establish Adaline’s lengthy interactions with historical elements, flashbacks still annoyingly work their way into the picture, fleshing out notions just after they’re introduced – like plot twists that are immediately clarified for viewers incapable of remembering the start of the film. This makes the story very disjointed and clunky, which certainly doesn’t help the sauntering pace. It’s never boring, but many of the events muster little enthusiasm or impact. “The Age of Adaline” is more than halfway over before Harrison Ford finally shows up, creating a vital boost in melodrama and a push toward forcing the characters to react to more harrowing mental predicaments. But by the end, the most emotional moment still comes from a briefly ailing Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
The romance is effective and the actors are all routinely amusing. But the excessively science-fiction-steeped setup only undermines the parts that work. The gimmick, elucidated by a narrator’s mumbo-jumbo that continually chimes in at the worst moments and in the most abrasive fashion, raises more questions than it could possibly be worth to create a unique filmic environment. Is Adaline invincible? Can she get sick? Can she gain weight? Can she die? These curiosities are mostly ignored, but the disorder’s general limitations and definitions regularly crop up. At least, it provides an opportunity for creative jokes and poetic repetitions in the dialogue – before the solution to Adaline’s “curse” utterly destroys any of the entertaining bits that preceded it (deteriorating into a serious take on the undoing of the phenomenon in “What Women Want,” which only marginally succeeded because of its chiefly comedic approach).
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)