The Age of Adaline is almost “really good.” It qualifies for my first hurdle of good science fiction: it takes just a single idea, namely that the aging process has frozen for a young widow and mother in 1937. From there it extrapolates her life without weird extras, like an alien intrusion or development of an extraordinary person into a superhero or something. Adaline remains a mortal woman. She can be injured by a cut or in a car accident. Although her teeth seem largely intact after a hundred years. (Side note: teeth are designed to last for significantly less time than the modern human lifespan. Aside from decay, they also wear down.)
After the film’s premise is set, a (much) younger man finds himself drawn to a quiet, beautiful, intelligent woman, the title character at age 107. And as the film unfolds, her secret unravels and she is confronted with a choice about how to live her life: continuing to be on the run from failed abductors from the McCarthy-era 50’s, or acknowledging that she wants a life with meaningful relationships.
A few things of interest: Adaline keeps a pet dog, and has chosen to be a pet owner multiple times in her life. It seems that the people she keeps distant have a similar role. Adaline reinvents herself every ten years and moves away with a new identity. The people in her life seem like pets–ten years and then poof, gone. Her photo album has many pictures of dogs.
Harrison Ford does quite well in his role as a former lover. Interesting that he is assigned the same last name, Jones, as his most famous film character. Blake Lively also offers a performance of depth and subtlety in this work–she’s not just eye candy with a modest wardrobe.
I think the movie is damaged by the voice-over narrator. It brings a rational intrusion into what is more of a fantasy than science fiction. The scientific “reasoning” for ending the aging process doesn’t strike me as real enough. Ms Lively carries enough of an air of a person who has lived for a century in a young person’s body, and besides: this movie is about how one person deals with a wish many of us would snatch: being forever young and attractive.
I think both the acting and the premise was strong enough to permit the characters to “show” the story, rather than have somebody off-screen explain it all. The use of flashback scenes is effective.
One big distraction aside, I think the movie is good viewing.