The Age of Adaline
Getting some shifty soul to forge yet another set of fake identification documents has become old hat for Adaline Bowman. … Or, wait, it's Jennifer Larson these days.
No, she's not a government agent or an international spy. Just a gentle, soft-spoken woman who every 10 years or so must uproot and retool her life, slipping into a different world and a different set of labels. Why? Well, if any curious sort ever caught a glimpse of all her passports and driver's licenses the only sure thing they'd notice is that with each new name, each new birth date, the woman originally named Adaline always looks exactly the same. In the 1940s, '50s and '60s, all the way up to 2014, she's consistently been a lovely and timeless 29.
Adaline, you see, does not age.
If that same curious passport glimpser also laid his hands on the right microfilm newspaper copy or set of sepia-toned photographs, or if he happened upon the right vintage, early 20th-century newsreel, he might piece together that this beautiful young woman began a unique journey nearly 80 years back.
It was 1935 when she accidentally ran her automobile off an icy road and wound up unconscious and immersed in a freezing river. In the next few moments her body temperature plummeted and her heart slowed to a stop. It was a blazing bolt of lightning that jumpstarted her back to life, somehow permanently changing her body chemistry in the process and making her "immune to the ravages of time."
Now, some would say such a thing must be a miraculous boon. Wouldn't it be wonderful, they'd muse, to stay perpetually young and beautiful? To have all the time in the world? For Adaline, though, it isn't quite such a charming gift.
Yes, she's traveled, experienced much and grown intellectually over the years. But having perpetual youth also means there are those who would make her into little more than a test-tube project if they could. And while working to avoid that crowd, she's often had to watch her daughter from a distance as the child turned from girl to gorgeous to gray. For that matter, every possibility of friendship or, worse, love must sensibly be kept as a fleeting, casual thing. Just watching her beloved pets grow old and die is painful enough.
Still, there are times when even her keep-everyone-at-a-distance wariness cannot stop someone special from slipping in from the edges of her life, men drawn to her unique beauty, depth and wisdom like moths to a flame. And it's at those times that Adaline sheds a tear—weeping as one blessed and cursed in equal measure.
Ellis is one of those special people who worms his way into Adaline's agelessness. He's handsome, charming and consumed with the things of history. He's also willing to turn his life upside down for this enchanting woman he's found. The two fall in love and each wants to do what's best for the other, even though the ultimate choice they face may be difficult.
We find out that Ellis' father, William, also had a passionate love in the past. And though he still holds strong feelings for the woman he once knew, he's willing to do what's right—including pushing those feelings aside and proclaiming his love for his wife of 40 years.
The love between Adaline and her daughter, Flemming, has stayed strong for over 70 years, even though they've at times been forced apart.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that "God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end." This movie, perhaps unintentionally, will trigger all sorts of thoughts and discussions about what it is to live as the grass does, here today and gone tomorrow, and how so much of what we know of our own spiritual identity would change if we did indeed live forever here on this earth.
We see a quick shot of Adaline getting married in a church.
Although Adaline has become increasingly cautious about becoming entangled in long-term relationships, it's implied that she's been intimate with several men since her accident. We see her and Ellis in bed together twice (dressed either in bed clothes or covered by a sheet). We also see them kiss on several occasions. And in a flashback we see her sitting in the dark on a bed next to another young man.
Adaline wears a few dresses that expose a bit of cleavage. Ellis steps out of a shower wrapped in nothing but a towel.
As already described, a car crashes through a guardrail on a winter's night and Adaline drowns in a freezing lake before being shocked back to life by a stray lightning strike. In another similar accident a car is struck by a truck and a person is ejected from the vehicle and left bleeding by the side of the road where she's shocked back to life by a defibrillator.
Adaline's hand is slashed open in a hiking accident. We see the bleeding wound getting stitched up.
Crude or Profane Language
One s-word, one "h---" and one combination of "God" and "d--n." Characters exclaim "oh my god!" three or four times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Wine and hard liquor slosh around at two New Year's Eve parties, several dinners and other social gatherings. Adaline swigs booze as a painkiller at one point. In flashback scenes, characters smoke. William smokes a pipe.
Other Negative Elements
Adaline illegally procures her false identities as she hides away from the prying eyes of the government. She steals Ellis' car.
The Age of Adaline is a high-concept romance that mixes almost sci-fi levels of broad fantasy with the heartthrob sensibilities of something like a Nicholas Sparks novel.
On the positive side, that means it's at times both introspective and visually impressive. While looking back through history and musing over the idea of perpetual youth and everlasting beauty, the film suggests that such a fantastic existence would likely be a lonely one, creating an environment in which there would be no chance of experiencing the relational oomph of growing old with someone you dearly loved. Or, as William laments to Adaline after finding out her secret, "For all those years you've lived, you've never had a life."
On the other hand, the film also celebrates less thoughtful convictions, especially when it tells us that "true love" and casual hops into the sack are a natural and timeless combination. And when you blend in all the other lesser moments of easy predictability and even occasional eye-roll-worthy silliness, well, the result seems a tad less ageless.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman; Michiel Huisman as Ellis Jones; Harrison Ford as William Jones; Ellen Burstyn as Flemming
Lee Toland Krieger ( )
April 24, 2015
September 8, 2015