|'despite its failings, of which there are several more, there is something that works here'|
A soapy, even softer-focus version of a story similar to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Age Of Adaline makes the first of several large leaps in believability and exposition when it explains during the opening that Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) does not age, due to an equation involving water, lighting and near-death. Didn't quite buy that bit? You're in for a treat when the final act opens, and Adaline throws a coincidence so spectacularly unbelievable at you it threatens the rest of the film.
The film-makers do deserve praise though, because there is no doubt that despite its failings, of which there are several more, there is something that works here. The very closing moments feel emotional and well-rounded of character and throughout the narrative you do find yourself investing more and more in Adaline and would-be romancer Ellis (Michiel Huisman). There are numerous conceits to buy here too however, such as Ellis' approach to wooing Adaline, which very definitely borders on stalking, but the fact that you do buy these in exchange for supporting the characters is testament to the two lead performances (which are acceptable) and the direction by Lee Toland Krieger of an oft-lazy script.
Krieger though opts for a melodramatic tone, which looks back at the past with a huge degree of golden age rose-tinting and forwards to the future with more of the same. Lively's affected accent adds to the feeling that you're in a Werther's Original advertisement, something backed up by the weighty voiceover, which is near parodic.
As the film moves to that third act shambles, the problems do stack up. There's a staggeringly obvious dog metaphor, which does nothing to take forwards years of obvious canine use by Hollywood screenwriters. Adaline herself also doesn't always work on her own terms. Quite why she sticks around from the third act reveal onwards (apart from to facilitate the plot) is a mystery, especially given the quick reactions of the character prior to that.
The Age Of Adaline then, is not a film without problems, perhaps most significantly to do with the fact that, whilst it covers areas around ageing and generational communication, it has very little to say on those concepts. But it does have heart and occasional impact and, by the finale, it has managed to communicate some of its sweetness, admittedly through a very creaky framework.
The Age Of Adaline was playing on Sky Movies.