Film Review: The Age of Adaline

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford. Directed by Lee Toland Krieger.

Imagine living a life where you were always aged 29. How would you live if you knew that you would never age?

I can’t say this is a question I often ask myself, but for Adaline Bowman, this is a reality. Born in 1908, Adaline (Lively) was involved in a freak car accident which rendered her unable to age… yeah, it’s a ridiculous concept, but roll with it.

Although she’s 107 years old, Adaline doesn’t look a day over 30, which means she has to live ‘on the run’, changing identities and never really revealing her true self – and age – to anyone. But when she falls for the smooth-talking Ellis (Huisman), she struggles to keep her secret to herself.

Adaline is a weird beast. There are things to like about the movie, but also a lot that just doesn’t add up. It’s aiming at an older audience – wanting to be a historical piece as it reveals different eras of Adaline’s life. But there’s also a level of fantasy here that just seems out of place.

This results in a rather confusing film that never quite fires as it could. Lively isn’t the best choice to play Adaline, bringing a rather stilted performance. The script also fails at many points, filled with unimaginative one-liners that make light of Adaline’s age. Beyond that though, it was refreshing to see a strong, clever, female lead character who has lived through all kinds of eras where women are valued in different ways.

The most frustrating thing about Adaline is that any time there’s opportunity for some emotion or tension to be strung out, it’s undercut by a narration explaining scientifically what’s going on (with Adaline’s lack of ageing). It’s trying to be clever, but it’s terribly painful, almost laughable.

‘She’s not capable… of change.’

We are all ageing. Whether we like it or not, we are headed towards death. We live in a fallen world filled with sickness and death. Things change too – society, technology – even people change. But there’s one constant: God. God is the same now as he always has been. He doesn’t age. He doesn’t change. James 1:17 –

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

God is the same today as he was yesterday, and will be tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). He is the eternal God, who always has been, and always will be. And in a life where we grow old, get sick, and things go wrong, this is a real comfort to us. Even more is the hope that the cross brings: beyond the grave lies eternal life with our unchanging God.

The Age of Adaline is a silly film, but if you’re after a rom-com with a twist, you’ll probably love this. I’m giving it two-and-a-half stars.

The Age of Adaline will release in cinemas in the US and UK later this week. It is currently screening in Australia.

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