The 2015 romantic drama could be described as a gender flipped Tuck Everlasting for adults, centering on 108-year old Adaline Bowman, whose routines of loneliness and drifting are upended by charming Ellis.
Let’s start with Adaline and her sympathetic story. She’s spent over 60 years of her life alone, with only a dog for company. The movie tells us she changes identities every decade, and gives us some interesting content relating to that. A majority of the relatable emotion of the film comes from Adaline dealing with her life and doing what she has to in order to survive, until Ellis comes along with his charm and changes her worldview.
Here’s the problem: Ellis isn’t actually all that charming. The NYE elevator meet-cute is actually cute, but Ellis follows up with mild stalking after “Jenny” repeatedly rebuffs him. This type of behavior is common in romantic movies, particularly ones released before #MeToo, but it is not acceptable behavior in the real world.
I felt that while Adaline and Ellis have some charming banter, the pace of the relationship seems a little rushed. Adaline is meeting his parents all of 30 minutes into the movie-maybe two or three weeks of chronology. He tells her he loves her shortly after this, adding unnecessary stakes to an already tense dynamic.
I don’t want to explain the major plot conflict of the movie, but suffice it to say it is not something many rational humans would approve of. The movie tries to pass off some differing ages as an excuse, but it doesn’t work for me.
I will commend the two standout supporters for their work. Ellen Burstyn shines as Adaline’s 80-year old daughter Fleming. The strange age reversal does nothing to alter the sweet mother-daughter dynamic between the two, although Fleming is at times more wise than her mother. The other standout role goes to Harrison Ford-yes he was a supporter. He plays the third character in the strange plot conflict. He brings a good sense of confusion and yearning to the role.
As my mother said, “the movie is a vehicle for Blake Lively to wear outfits from different eras”. The idea of a woman drifting through time but never changing is very intriguing, but the movie puts all the focus on the romance that changes her and not enough on her life as an immortal.
The movie is good at musing about time, and mortal relation to it, and other deep topics, but the love triangle gets in the way of this being a serious, philosophical movie. 7/10 for a dash of philosophy, decent main actors, and stunning supporters. A full points lost for the weird plot conflict, one for each person involved, as well as pacing issues. Watch it, but don’t expect as much philosophy as Passengers or City of Angels.