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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Age of Adaline

September 7th, 2015

The Age of Adaline - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack
Video on Demand

The Age of Adaline

The Age of Adaline was a late April release, which is one of three dumping grounds throughout the calender. The big summer releases are just around the corner and are sucking up all of the available hype. Because of this, it is hard for a late April release to thrive and studios tend to dump misfires or counter-programming films during these weeks. So is The Age of Adaline a misfire? Or does it fit nicely into the counter-programming role?

The Movie

We begin in the middle of the story with Adaline Bowman buying a false ID. We hear in a voice-over that she's currently going by the name Jennifer Larson, so this is clearly not the first time she's bought fake ID. She's so knowledgeable on the subject that she busts him for using a fake name. She's a very smart lady. She should be. She was born in 1908. She got married at the age of 21. Had a baby girl, Flemming, when she was 24. Widowed at age 29. It was at this age a freak snow storm hit California when she was driving and she crashed her car into a river. She died as a result, but a lightning bolt struck the car reviving her. As a side effect, she stopped aging.

Adaline stopped aging, but others did not. When she was 45, it became clear she would no longer be able to live under her own name without drawing unwanted attention. This unwanted attention includes being picked up by the FBI during the Red Scare. She quickly learns what it takes to survive and this includes never telling anyone about her real name and in turn giving up acting as a mother for her daughter. She's kept this pledge, more or less, for 60 years. This does mean she lives her life alone, with the exception of a series of pet dogs named Reese.

One New Year's Eve party, Adaline meets Ellis. Ellis is immediately smitten with her, but Adaline isn't interested. As she says to the now elderly Flemming, in just over a month, she's moving away and taking on a new identity. He is persistent and she does agree to go on a date with him. The date goes well, so well that they spend the night together. Afterward, Ellis wants to continue, but Adaline blows him off. We see in a flashback why that is. One time, Adaline was in love and the man was going to propose; however, she couldn't tell him about her "condition", so she just left. Adaline also decides to end this relationship when Ellis becomes too serious; however, a conversation with Flemming makes her reconsider that choice. It's not fair to give up on love, just because she can't grow old with whomever she's in love with.

Adaline decides to give a relationship with Ellis a chance. She even agrees to meet his parents, Kathy and William. It's their 40th Anniversary. However... we hit some major spoilers here, sort of. It's partially shown in the trailer, so it can't be too much of a spoiler. William knew Adaline and recognizes her as soon as he sees her. In fact, as we see in another flashback, they met in the 1960s and even told him her real name. At first Adaline tells William that Adaline was her mother. I don't think it is a spoiler to say this charade doesn't last for long.

The Age of Adaline is a romantic drama with a light touch of fantasy. "Light" is a good word to describe the film. It is in no way a deep film, and almost never generates any real tension, which would normally result in a movie that would barely hold your attention. However, thanks in part to Blake Lively's charm, the film still manages to succeed, for the most part. Not everything works. For instance, the narration that comes and goes is fine in parts, but a distraction in others. Narration as a story-telling tool only works in certain circumstances and here it feels like it was added late in the process after some test audiences complained that they didn't understand some plot elements. That said, I do like some of the explanations. (Adaline's ageless quality is explained by a scientific discovery... that won't happen for another 20 years. That's only slightly more detailed than saying, "Magic.") Furthermore, Blake Lively and Michiel Huisman don't have great chemistry together. It's not terrible, but it isn't strong enough that I can imagine Adaline giving up her way of life that she's maintained for 60 years. In fact, she and Harrison Ford have better chemistry together, as do Blake Lively and Ellen Burstyn and Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker. When the two romantic leads in a romantic movie has the weakest chemistry of any of the pairings, it is a problem.

That said, The Age of Adaline is still the best romantic drama to come out in a while. Granted, the genre is dominated by Nicholas Sparks' movies, so the competition is low. If you like romantic movies, definitely give The Age of Adaline a shot. I don't think it will become your favorite movie in the genre, but I think you will enjoy the journey.

The Extras

There's a full selection of extras on the DVD and Blu-ray, starting with an audio commentary track with the director, Lee Toland Krieger. Up next is a 30-minute making of featurette, followed by a 19-minute featurette on the styles throughout the ages. There is also 8-minute look at Anthony Ingruber, who played the younger version of Harrison Ford's character and he looks so much like a young Harrison Ford that it is creepy. Finally, there are 4 minutes of deleted scenes.

The technical presentation is excellent, given the type of film and some stylistic choices. The film was mostly shot digitally, but some of the flashbacks / pseudo-archival footage was shot on 16mm. Clearly these scenes won't push your Blu-ray. There are no issues otherwise and while it is not the most visually intensive film I've seen, the level of details, contrast, and colors are all excellent. Likewise, the audio is presented in a 7.1 surround sound track, but there's still not a lot of activity in the surround sound speakers, nor are there many directional effects.

The Blu-ray costs $19, which is $4 or 27% more than the DVD. That's a good deal for this type of release.

The Verdict

I don't think The Age of Adaline will be the favorite movie for many people, but I do think if you like romantic movies, you will want to check it out. The extras on the DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack are better than expected, so it could be worth a purchase over just a rental on Video on Demand.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Age of Adaline, Harrison Ford, Kathy Baker, Ellen Burstyn, Blake Lively, Lee Toland Krieger, Nicholas Sparks, Michiel Huisman, Izabel A. Pearce, Cate Richardson, Anthony Ingruber