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'Age of Adaline' explores the downside of immortality
Blake Lively stars as Adaline Bowman in The Age of Adaline. - photo by Josh Terry
The Age of Adaline is a fairy tale that doesnt feel like a fairy tale; its science fiction that doesnt feel like science fiction. It does such a good job of grounding itself in reality that you forget the fantastic premise its trying to sell you.

But, it does its job so well that Adaline stumbles when it reaches its finale.

Blake Lively plays the title character, a woman whose physical composition becomes frozen at age 29 after a near-death experience alters her genetic makeup. Fearing a grisly fate as a lab rat, she spends decades skipping town and changing her identity, and only her daughter knows about her condition.

We join her story in the present day, as Adaline is well over 100 years old. Her body may not have aged, but she has grown weary of her rootless lifestyle. When she meets a persistent philanthropist named Ellis (Michiel Huisman), she considers settling down for the first time in decades.

Ellis invites Adaline to come up the coast with him to meet his parents an accomplished physicist named William (Harrison Ford) and his wife of 40 years, Connie (Kathy Baker). But William has a connection to Adalines past, and meeting the parents has never quite been so problematic.

To say more would give away too much of a story that kicks into gear during the weekend getaway. It is here that Adaline goes from interesting and linear to genuinely compelling and unexpected.

Lively feels like a perfect choice for Adaline, emoting an effortless sophistication that allows her to feel at home in any decade. This quality is one of the main reasons the audience can accept the idea that her character is over 100 years old on the inside.

The character is a mystery to everyone she encounters, but knowing her secret prompts even more questions:

Adalines husband died before her accident does she pine for him? Does this keep her from other men?

Her daughter knows her secret, but she doesnt seem to have anyone, either. Is she married? Does Adaline have grandchildren?

What must it be like to live long enough to see your posterity evaporate?

Adaline is well served by its screenplay, which takes opportunities to wink at the audience without turning the film into slapstick. When someone tries to take Adalines picture, she dismisses the offer gracefully: If youve seen one, youve seen them all.

Huisman has decent chemistry with Lively, especially as a character so oblivious to his situation. But he pales next to the charisma of the Hollywood veteran playing his father, and this causes problems later in the film.

Theres plenty to like here, but Adaline fails to completely deliver on its promise. Its easy to forget that the film is a fantasy, and some elements of the third act feel a little contrived, while other machinations just feel forced. Still, Adaline does enough things well that you want to ignore the parts that arent working.

Freezing our protagonist at 29 feels significant. A hero stuck at 21 would have made for a very different film, but 29 allows Lively to emote wisdom without feeling entirely out-of-place. If you were going to be stuck at one age, wouldnt 29 be a nice choice?

The Age of Adaline is rated PG-13 for some mild gore and violence, as well as some fleeting sexual content.