‘The Age of Adaline’
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Blake Lively on screen, and I have to say, I missed her.
Maybe that’s part of what drove me to the theater to see “The Age of Adaline.” Sadly, it most certainly wasn’t enough to keep me engaged.
“The Age of Adaline” is, in a word, boring. It has the makings of what could have been a near-perfect romance — a sappy but potentially gripping storyline, three attractive leads. First, we have Lively of “Gossip Girl” fame as Adaline Bowman, a woman rendered ageless by a freak accident almost 80 years ago. Michiel Huisman holds down the role of the current love interest, Ellis Jones, undeterred by Adaline’s seeming reservations about romantic entanglements. Finally, Harrison Ford features as William Jones, the man Adaline fell in love with about 40 years ago, who coincidentally happens to be Ellis’ father.
OK, so that’s a lot to swallow. Allow me to break this down a bit.
Lively is two-dimensional at best, her performance lacking the depth necessary to make this lackluster film pop. I can’t quite tell whether it was a failure of the script or her fatal flaw as an actress. As shown by her time on “Gossip Girl,” Lively has a talent for taking characters that could be really interesting and making them, well, not.
Adaline as a character and Lively as the lead is dull. She floats from tears to reserved smiles to tentative kisses with Ellis and back to tears again. There isn’t much else to be said about her. And as the main character, that is an unforgivable error.
The film’s leading man, however, is marginally more pleasant to watch.
Ellis’ appearance is perfect. He has almost all of the right pieces to comprise the quintessential leading man. He is handsome. His beard is just beardy enough, his clothes just hipster enough and, thanks to some genius algorithm he is responsible for, just rich enough to spend his money doing good by sitting on preservation society boards and attending big events.
And, as is made obvious in the requisite one shirtless scene, his body is banging.
Objectification aside, he’s also sickeningly sweet, doing all of the things a “good guy” should do.
He brings her flowers, donates wildly expensive first edition books to the library she works at and takes her on excursions during her lunch hour. He whips her up a perfectly adorable, well-thought-out dinner in his perfect loft, overlooking a picture-perfect San Francisco.
In the end, the whole thing plays as cliché and overbearing. There isn’t enough depth in Huisman’s character to make him interesting, and Lively isn’t engaging enough to make me care about their romance. That, I believe, is where this movie fails.
In my particular school of thought, it’s not the job of the love interest to make a story compelling. They are there to support the main character, make their overall story more interesting and create a more believable story arch. If we’re lucky, of course, they’ll do all of the above in addition to being just as in-depth and amazing as the star.
For all intents and purposes, even if the rest of the cast doesn’t deliver, it’s the leads’ duty to pull the movie up and make good on the trailer’s well-crafted premise.
In nearly every category, though, “The Age of Adaline” falls short. It leaves Lively with another notch in her belt that doesn’t quite live up to its potential.
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