Ageless Adaline’s fairytale life
THE AGE OF ADALINE
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger and written by J Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz. Starring: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Ellen Burstyn. Fantasy romance. 1hr 53mins. M for sexual references. Now showing at Reading and Event cinemas.
One of the most mundane things about Hollywood’s current mania for fairytales is that few film-makers have been bold enough to have a crack at creating a fairytale – an allegory on modern morals – of their own. Perhaps we don’t need such whimsy to make sense of modern life any more?
In these science-centred times, human behaviour has been measured, quantified and studied to the nth degree, reduced to the impulses of hormones or the state of our bank balances. It’s science, not stories, we turn to to make sense of the world these days.
But if you’ve ever wondered what a truly modern fairytale would look like, epic fantasy romance The Age of Adaline comes pretty close.
Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has a terrible secret. After a freak accident in the early 20th century, she was rendered ageless, trapped forever in her 29-year-old body, unable to age.
Always on the run, she has jumped from identity to identity as the decades turned, with only her now elderly daughter (Ellen Burstyn) to remember who she really is.
On the eve of leaving her quiet life in San Francisco for an even quieter life in Oregon, Adaline meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huis- man).
Ellis is the kind of man she never expected to meet again – one who might be worth giving up her secrets for.
From the outside, Adaline may seem like just another glossy, charming romance, the Harlequin version of the usual schmaltzy Mills and Boon trash Hollywood likes to churn out from time to time.
But don’t let the ‘‘impossibly lovely, wealthy, perfect looking people finding true love against the odds’’ storyline fool you.
Beneath the schmaltz is a surprisingly sophisticated parable on the danger of stagnating, of falling prey to our youth-obsessed culture and of not grasping how fleeting life is.
In true fairytale style, Adaline is taught a lesson by being given a seemingly wondrous gift – eternity with Blake Lively’s perfect face – only for the gift to become a horrible nightmare as she becomes a medical curiosity, and as everyone around her grows old and dies.
In true modern style, however, it’s science, not magic, that governs Adaline’s long, immutable life. In place of a fairy-godmother is a Wes Anderson- esque voiceover; in place of Prince Charming is Internet Start-Up Millionaire Charming who uses his millions to do good works.
If I have one criticism of this lovely film it’s that we don’t have enough time to see the changes in the world through Adaline’s wise eyes.
She seems to have sprung out of the 1900s fully formed, with no sense of a woman who has lived through say, suffrage, or the women’s movement in the 60s.
Then again, the magic of fairytales is never in the details. They’re just the glitter that draws the eye long enough to get the message across, and Adaline’s message is a potent one: Don’t get so caught up in details that you forget to live.
Blake Lively is the timeless Adaline in fantasy romance, The Age of Adaline.