The Age of Adaline (2015)
When I first saw the poster for The Age of Adaline, I actually thought it was the latest in the long line of Nicholas Sparks book to film adaptation production line. It wasn't until I saw the trailer that I realised it was something altogether much more appealing (not that I'm against Nic Sparks - Nights In Rodanthe is highly recommended). The truth is I really have a soft spot for the sub-genre of the soppy time travel/time manipulation romantic fantasy, e.g. Jeannot Szwarc's Somewhere in Time, Mel Gibson's Forever Young, Korean sleeper hit Il Mare (remade as The Lake House with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock) and Richard Curtis' About Time. The only one that I didn't really get along with was The Time Traveller's Wife. The Age of Adaline is undoubtedly among the stronger examples of the genre.
Blake Lively plays Adaline Bowman, a young woman born at the turn of the century, who is rendered ageless at 29 - unable to age any further in physical appearance and in terms of health - by a freak accident whilst driving home one night (it could almost be a superhero movie!). As Connor McCleod discovered to his detriment, although there are many great perks to immortality, it can also wreak major havoc on your love-life. As a result, Adaline opts to live in solitude until she meets a man (Michiel Huisman from Game of Thrones) that inevitably complicates her settled eternal life.
Fittingly, for a film about a lady from the early 20th century, everything about The Age of Adaline feels deliberately and aptly old fashioned. From Lee Toland Krieger's patient and languid direction, the classy set design, David Lanzenberg's gorgeous photography - the streets of San Francisco have never looked more picture-esque than as they are depicted here - to the performances, there is a distinct classical aura about this film.
Speaking of acting performances, Blake Lively is positively radiant as the titular Adaline. She is an actress that I believe should be in more movies, but has been possibly hampered by her striking looks, or perhaps her role in TV show Gossip Girl. Prior to The Age of Adaline, Mrs. Ryan Reynolds had largely only featured in supporting parts such as Savages, The Town and Green Lantern. The Age of Adaline (and more recently The Shallows) has proved that Lively undoubtedly has the acting chops to take centre stage in leading roles. Her charismatic and measured portrayal of Adaline - such as subtly showing her wisdom despite her seemingly tender years - may be a revelation to those not familiar with the actress. It also doesn't hurt that Lively looks like a leading lady from Hollywood's golden era of Bergman and Bacall. Dutch actor Michiel Huisman proves a very handsome counterpart to Lively, but truth be told, his role is not much more than window dressing. In addition, a wealth of supporting talent was assembled for this film in the veteran form of Ellen Burstyn, Kathy Baker and Harrison Ford - their contributions adding an extra layer of class to proceedings.
From a narrative perspective, the story is told (as befitting a film with such a plot line) with a dreamy, fairytale-like aura. Obviously, a huge suspension of disbelief has to be taken with the events that cause Adaline's ageless condition, but that can be forgiven given the aforementioned magical nature of the tale. The only real misgiving is that the third act/ending is unable to avoid the predictable contrivances of this type of story, but it's a minor gripe, and I wouldn't expect anything less from what is essentially a fairytale. Finally, it transpires that the connection I made with Nicholas Sparks was not unfounded, as co-writer J. Mills Goodloe also helped to adapt for the screen the novelist's The Best Of Me.