Film Review: The Age of Adaline (M) (USA, 2015)

Blake Lively Films "Age Of Adaline"

The quest for the fountain of youth is always fraught with danger but did anybody ever stop to think of the possible other outcomes of remaining eternally young? Perhaps there’s something inherently beautiful in the notion of growing old.

Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) born near the turn of the 20th Century suffers a near fatal but magical accident that results in her ceasing to age when she’s only 29. For almost eight decades Adaline leads a solitary life with only her daughter Flemming aware of her secret. Never allowing herself to have any close relationships for fear of her secret being revealed or being alerted to the authorities. But on New Year’s Eve in the present day, a chance encounter with charming entrepreneur Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) makes her begin to question whether she can stop hiding and start to live her life and love again.

The movie starts off with a wistful trip down Backstory Lane where our voice over narrator tells us about Adaline and where she was born and right up to her accident that changes her life. It’s visually soft and takes us back to the distant past of the early 1900’s and up to the 1920’s, filled with gorgeous costumes and vintage cars and discussing the construction of San Francisco city and Golden Gate Bridge. It’s all nice-looking like an Instagram filter-filled trip down memory lane. Then we reach the accident, and well yeah, you need to suspend your belief here. Even with the supposedly scientific explanation for what’s happening, it all seems preposterous so just go with it, the girl now can’t age. But what comes next after this point is really the heart of the film.

The film is a character piece focusing on Adaline and her journey but also the price she has paid for the life she’s living. She’s wise and knowledgeable but at the same time emotionally compromised. She has experienced love and loss but in order for her to survive she believes she has to hide away from the world. Her loneliness is apparent, she lives in an apartment in Chinatown (a Westerner living in amongst all the Easterners), she works in a library, she has a middle-aged friend who is blind (who seems convinced Adaline is also “middle-aged”) and she has an elderly dog for company and she constantly moves every few years assuming a new identity in the process. When she walks past old photos or watches archived news footage she has nostalgic flashbacks to days gone by.

When Ellis arrives he’s like a tornado into her life, filled with energy and he won’t take no for an answer. There were one or two moments where I felt like his pushiness was borderline harassment, but it’s the fact that he manages to break through her defences that results in her changing her mind about being with him. Or maybe she just got tired of pushing back? Regardless, this intelligent and charming man knows how to take a worldly woman like Adaline out on a date, or crack a joke to break her cool exterior.

The performances from both Blake Lively and Michiel Huisman are wonderful. Lively in particular manages to come across as reclusive without seeming eccentric or weird. And the aforementioned loneliness permeates these small little strokes across her face, rather than being overt. Whilst Huisman is charmismatic and charming (maybe a little too much) and has this constant warm energy. Their onscreen chemistry is slow burning but works well and never feels contrived. Harrison Ford who plays Ellis’ father (and a previous lover of Adaline’s, wahey plot twist!) still has that old wily romantic appeal that irrespective of his age you still find him endearing. Whilst the most touching surprise is the interaction between Ellen Burstyn and Lively, as they play mother and daughter in a visual role reversal with Burstyn playing the elderly daughter Flemming.

We probably could’ve done with slightly less of the narration since a lot of what’s happening onscreen is fairly self-explanatory. Though what isn’t explained is how even though Adaline doesn’t age, she manages to survive 80 years of living without dying. Surely she may have come into contact with Smallpox or a nasty case of pneumonia? So she’s not only ageless but has a great immune system and excellent health insurance. But hey, suspending belief here and going to ignore that plot-hole.

The most striking thing about this film is this notion of challenging the value of youth and vanity and the beauty in growing old. That for Adaline, despite being able to experience all these exciting and wonderful things it came at a cost of not being able to share those experiences with others. Director Lee Toland Krieger manages to create a film that uses period pieces to create these dotted journeys into Adaline’s past but still remains focused on the present. The Age of Adaline is a wistful romantic film with a touch of magic realism and an unashamed chick-flick of the smart kind.


Running Time: 110 minutes

The Age of Adaline is screening in Australian cinemas from 16th April 2015 through Entertainment One


This content has recently been ported from its original home on The Iris and may have formatting errors – images may not be showing up, or duplicated, and galleries may not be working. We are slowly fixing these issue. If you spot any major malfunctions making it impossible to read the content, however, please let us know at editor AT

Carina Nilma

Office lackey day-job. Journalist for The AU Review night-job. Emotionally invested fangirl.