Blake Lively plays a woman who stopped ageing 80 years ago in The Age of Adaline.

Blake Lively plays a woman who stopped ageing 80 years ago in The Age of Adaline.

Reel Reviews: Adaline suffers from narration

“The Age of Adaline could have been amazing, rather than merely adequate.”

  • May. 3, 2015 11:00 a.m.

After driving off a bridge and drowning in her car, young widower Adaline (Blake Lively) dies, but only for a few seconds.

A bolt of lightning strikes the car, starting her heart and Adaline swims to safety. Miraculously, after this event, she forever remains 29 years old.

For more than 80 years, Adaline hides her true age from all but her daughter, by moving, changing her name and job every decade. When Adaline meets a young man named Ellis (Michiel Huisman) tenacious enough to break through her crafted solitude, she allows herself to love again.

Meeting the family of the young man turns problematic when his father William (Harrison Ford) recognizes Adaline.

We say, “The Age of Adaline could have been amazing, rather than merely adequate.”

TAYLOR: This is a fun idea for a movie, performed well and captured adequately, but it unfolds like a comic book. I don’t usually approve of narration and The Age of Adaline has the worst kind: unnecessary and cheesy.

If Adaline had come by her apparent immortality in some unexplained fashion and if you were to watch the first 10 minutes of this film with the sound muted, it would be a much better film.

Frankly, it’s insulting and it makes me mad. Everything has to be dumbed-down these days or producers think people won’t understand. It’s supposed to be art, maybe you’re not supposed to get it right away. Movies should show us things, not tell us things.

HOWE:  I thought the narration was the worst part of the movie. It reminded me of guy who tells the story in Eminem’s song Guilty Conscience, and I agree that it’s tacked on so people will understand. Either that or it’s there for the kids to understand it as it’s only a G-rated movie, but then again what six year old wants to sit through a two-hour love story?

TAYLOR: The narrator reminded my wife of the narrator from the Anchorman movies. She wondered if she was supposed to take Adaline seriously. It turns out you are but it just becomes difficult. Lively is great. She speaks quietly and is wise beyond her years. The story is interesting and the supporting cast is acceptable. The film feels like they ruined what was a great book by telling you the story lineally, rather than maintaining some of the mystery for a later reveal.

Unfortunately, this is an original screenplay, just extremely weak and in no way clever. It’s a terrific example of how poor storytelling can kill a great story.

HOWE: A couple of years ago we reviewed Winter’s Tale, another love story where the main character doesn’t age, the difference being that it had an interesting storyline. The Age of Adaline just repeated itself over and over again: someone gets close to her, she gets upset and runs away, a decade later the cycle repeats. To me it should have done something different, given it a wow factor somehow, because it’s not a bad movie.

– Howe gives The Age of Adaline 2 black and white photographs out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 2 story-crafting lessons out of 5.

– Peter Howe and Brian Taylor are film reviewers based in Vernon, BC