The central casting of Blake Lively as the titular character of "The Age of Adaline" was a keen decision on the filmmakers' part, as the actress conveys a sense of timeless physical beauty--such that the premise of playing a woman who, after a freak accident, stops aging is in good hands on Lively's part and much more so than it is in the hands of screenwriters J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz. This is film with its heart in the right place, but its mind is distracted by a superficial romance of the sort that, in the context of the film's premise prior to the final ten minutes, would be any other, generic romance of which Adaline Bowman is half.
But that premise is rife with potential. It even affords itself a scientific explanation at the beginning--with the twist that it will be twenty years before the explanation has arrived--narrated with stately precision by Hugh Ross. Adaline was involved in a car accident in the mid-1930s; the car then plunged deep into a lake, which was in turn struck by lightning. The combination of cold water and the heat from the lightning simultaneously froze and jumpstarted her heart. But she no longer ages, having to move every ten years on the spot and change identities, too. Her daughter (who eventually ages to the point that she is played by Ellen Burstyn) is the only person aware of her secret.
She meets Ellis (Michael Huisman) at a New Year's eve party, and the two slowly chip away at Adaline's reluctance to take part in a romance (She is in her current identity of Jennifer Larson, after all). Trouble is, Ellis' father William (Harrison Ford, surprisingly strong), through a contrivance that stretches the believability of even this kind of magical realism, knows Adaline, too. The third act ups the ante of the melodrama of all of this to 11 (Lee Toland Krieger's comparatively gentler direction is helpful but not enough), and the strain is simply too much for Goodloe and Paskowitz to maintain the premise to its rightfully bitter end. Their screenplay is all about the tidy ending, and "The Age of Adaline" suffers because of it.
Blake Lively (Adaline Bowman), Michiel Huisman (Ellis Jones), Harrison Ford (William Jones), Ellen Burstyn (Flemming), Kathy Baker (Kathy Jones), Amanda Crew (Kikki Jones), Lynda Boyd (Regan).
Featuring the voice of Hugh Ross (Narrator).
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger and written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz.
Rated PG-13 (a suggestive comment).
Released on April 24, 2015.