The curse of immorality is not that you grow restless and run out of things to do; it is that those close to you come and go with the passing years, and experiencing heartbreak becomes commonplace as the one you want to grow old with does—but you don’t. This intriguing trope would be a brilliant one to explore, but in the entirety of The Age of Adaline, it is completely forgotten in its nonsensical storyline and passionless, flawed characters who never truly feel in love.
After a freak accident in the late 1920s, Adaline finds herself permanently stuck in her young body up into the 21st century. The only person who knows her secret is her daughter (Ellen Burstyn), and she purposefully avoids love at all costs—not because she’s afraid of heartbreak, that would be silly, but rather she is actually terrified of being experimented on and used for science. Most of this information comes to us in flashbacks topped-off with an annoying Benjamin Button-esque narrator giving us more detail than we need or want.
For a movie thats tagline is, “Love is Timeless,” there sure is not a whole lot of loving going around. At a New Years Eve party, Adaline finds Ellis—er, maybe he “finds” her—as he appears to have been a major fan of the “Christian Grey’s Tips for Being a Crazy Stalker” book. After consistently pestering Adaline until she finally gives in, Ellis further strengthens the idea that being completely and utterly creepy is always successful in getting the girl (as long as you are attractive), but he also opens her eyes to the possibility of love. Michiel Huisman (Daario from Game of Thrones), cannot seem to rid Ellis of his stalker qualities, but at times he is charming, yet there is a hint of chemistry that never gets completely flushed out.
Blake Lively, for as good as she is at brushing off every man in the movie with a haughty coolness, does not give nearly enough depth to Adaline’s character for her to be at least mildly believable in the sense that she has weathered years of painful losses from constant departures and name-changes. What we do know of her life–like the dead husband who bore her a child–hardly has any apparent effect on her character at all. In a rather awkward and possibly creepier role, Harrison Ford literally appears on screen as Ellis’ father, and proceeds to make countless cringe-worthy advances towards Adaline whom he thinks is someone from his past. It is bizarre and a bit uncomfortable as we come to learn the extent of this relationship. Ford’s character also forces an unnatural tonal shift towards something more of a comedy which severely detracts from what had been built in terms of a somber atmosphere up until that point thanks to its elegiac score by Rob Simonsen.
Perhaps it says something that the most emotional part of the film is when we find out Adaline’s dog has failing kidneys. With a wealth of potential to hit hard with heartbreak and loss, The Age of Adaline carelessly ignores these elements for something that ultimately ends up as a mess of a film that is devoid of any sort of moments that would illicit an emotional response. Love might be timeless, but it is invisible in this “romance.”