Ageless but not quite timeless
Elegant and well-acted, The Age of Adaline proves novel but not quite exceptional, ageless but not quite timeless, with enough allure to entice you and just enough heart to win you over.After a freak accident leaves her untarnished by the ravages of time, a modern-day Adaline, having spent a century roaming the planet, reflects upon her past as she finds herself in the throes of one last love. The film's basic premise offers up a less supernatural (even, rather preposterously, scientific) take on a Dorian Gray-esque character, whose seemingly eternal youth is more a curse than a blessing, as she watches everybody she ever loved - from a husband to a child to all the lovers across the ages - slowly wither and die. Played to perfection by Blake Lively (The Town, Savages), The Age of Adaline both draws you in and keeps you at arm's length through this core performance, anchoring the piece in period authenticity - both in exquisite set design and rich lead character design - but, in the process, also preserving it from easy accessibility.Lively superbly embodies this 100-year-old-in-a-28-year-old's-body, visibly channeling decades of accumulated knowledge and inherent grace into this beautiful young vessel, as she glides through life and bats away suitors; dances around bankers and charms all she meets with the near-limitless experience the ages have afforded her. And yet her tone-perfect portray requires a certain aloofness; a certain distance that similarly keeps the viewer at bay, at once juggling inviting mystery with frustrating passiveness, as if we - and she - are both viewer and voyeur. With young and old support, not least through a reserved and surprisingly potent Harrison Ford, and some clever non-spoon-fed flashbacks that add layers of background, there's much to enjoy if you embrace this unusual mystery drama, although you'll have to be patient to get to it.
Picture QualityThe Age of Adaline hits Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of Entertainment in Video who deliver an impressively rich 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Detail is largely excellent throughout, with strong fine object observation, skin textures, clothing weaves and background nuances, and no overt digital anomalies.
Across the ages, Adaline maintains a consistently impressive video presentation.
The digitally shot images have been heavily manipulated, lending different time periods some historical distinction, with almost sepia tones injected into some of the earlier sequences. Beyond the more overtly CG sequences, there’s very little softness that comes into play, and the colour scheme – even with the inherent styles adopted – still boasts some nicer vibrant, rich tones, and strong black levels that largely survive intact. It’s far from picture perfection but it just about earns some demo kudos.
Sound QualityThe Blu-ray of The Age of Adaline is released with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack in the UK and a Dolby Atmos soundtrack in the US.
Cas Harlow reviewed the UK disc using a standard 5.1-channel setup - The UK disc provides a solid accompaniment in the form of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which provides a strong audio backdrop for the proceedings. Dialogue is rendered clearly and coherently across the front and centre channels, whilst effects, which are almost entirely atmospheric, allow for rich environments to spring to life. A few louder sequences – bolstered by the opening, and climactic, scenes, afford more thunderous impact, although these moments are generally few and far between, the track instead employing a more consistent score and ambient effects background to the events in the film. It’s more than just serviceable, and knocks on the door of demo status, but largely remains a very good – but far from exceptional – audio accompaniment, at least in this guise.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack proves the format can enhance a romantic drama - pity it's only on the US release.
Steve Withers reviewed the US disc using a 7.2.4-channel Dolby Atmos setup - It's a real shame that UK disc buyers are once again getting short changed when it comes to a Blu-ray release because the Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the US Blu-ray of The Age of Adaline is something of a surprise. A romantic drama about an ageless woman from the turn of the last century might not, at first, seem the kind of film that would benefit from an immersive surround mix. However the clue to its success might well be in the name Dolby has given their new format because the sound design delivers atmosphere with wonderful precision. Whether it's a crowded San Francisco street, the countryside or a lavish New Year's Eve party, the Atmos mix totally immerses you in the environment, creating a highly realistic experience whilst always keeping dialogue clear. That's not to say that the film's soundtrack doesn't kick up gear on occasion and there's a lot of low frequency effects used to underscore certain scenes. There are also two car cashes, one near the start of the film and one towards the end, which give the system a thorough workout with plenty of rain, lighting and thunder thrown in for good measure. Although perhaps not obvious demo material, the soundtrack finally proves that Dolby Atmos can enhance even a romantic drama, so it's a real shame that it isn't included on the UK disc.
ExtrasA trio of extended featurettes provide further background into the production, headlined by the comprehensive A Love Story For The Ages, which clocks in at just shy of half an hour and provides a strong overview into the film’s origins and shoot, with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage interspersed by cast and crew interview snippets. Style Through the Ages maintains the weightier feel to these featurettes, with 20 minutes spent just looking at the production design that fuels the various periods, whilst Discovering Young Harrison Ford: Anthony Ingruber takes an 8 minutes to look behind the casting of this young actor who does bear a striking resemblance to a young Harrison Ford. The disc is rounded off by a selection of Deleted Scenes that total a mere 4 minutes of additional footage. Unfortunately, along with the Dolby Atmos soundtrack, the UK disc is also missing the commentary found on the US version.
Blu-ray VerdictWell-acted and with sumptuous production design, The Age of Adaline proves novel but not quite exceptional, ageless but far from timeless. With Blake Lively commanding the screen, and some warm little cameos - including a superb addition from Harrison Ford - and with an interesting premise, there's plenty of rich potential here - some left untapped - and also just as much cold aloofness to keep some viewers at a distance. Embraced with a suitable degree of intrigue, and persisted with until the considerably more powerful third act, this may just win you over. Certainly it deserves credit for trying something a little different with the standard romantic drama story, even if not everything works.
If you didn't already know that it lacks the US disc's Atmos soundtrack and commentary, this would be a halfway decent release.
Strong video and audio, as well as a fairly comprehensive selection of extra features, would leave those unaware believing this to be a solid release. Unfortunately, with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack and additional features - most notably an audio commentary from the director - available on the already-released US Blu-ray, this inferior release is overshadowed and, ultimately, disappointing. Still, retrofitting that blissful ignorance, this is - technically, and independently - a strong release.
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