Why is a woman who is young, beautiful, sophisticated and wealthy buying herself a new identity? That is the question in the opening scene of The Age of Adeline.
It’s no spoiler to answer, since it’s revealed early in the movie. She’s immortal and over a century old. This is a theme that many science fiction stories have been built around, for example, Poul Anderson’s The Boat of A Million Years. Whoever wrote the screenplay must have read some of them because for once Hollywood gets it right. The result is a surprisingly moving and involving story.
The problem with immortality is that you outlive everyone you love. Even worse, Adeline realizes she can’t let anyone know and so she spends the years alone, changing her identity and moving to a new city every decade or so.
The only one who knows her secret is her daughter, beautifully played by Ellen Burstyn. There is an absolutely mind blowing scene where the two meet for dinner looking like a grandmother and granddaughter except the grandmotherly Ellen Burstyn tells her young and beautiful mother that she is going to move into a nice retirement community (in Phoenix, Arizona!). Her mother worries that she’ll be too far away in case she needs help and the daughter worries about her mother’s loneliness. The scene is unbearably poignant.
And then Adeline meets Michiel Huisman who instantly adores her. This sends her into a panic and she tries to flee any involvement. At this point, the movie veers into Nicholas Sparks territory as we go through all the romantic complications while the story works itself out.
Harrison Ford appears and for me, that made the movie. He shows that you can age and still be a gorgeous hunk. His portrayal of an older man is perfect.
I won’t give away the ending except to say it works though at the level of any romance. That’s also my one criticism. The framework of the movie is that of a romance and, while it works, it also leaves you empty. I mean, if you live for a century, especially through the Twentieth Century, shouldn’t you have thoughts and feelings about what’s happening to the world? Wouldn’t you have some philosophical conclusions? Not in the world of The Age of Adaline. The focus is totally on her self involved loneliness but it’s beautifully done.
The movie works as a romance more than a science fiction despite the premise. If you love romance, you’ll love Adaline. Just don’t see it expecting anything more. ~~ Marian Powell