Lee Toland Krieger has made his name directing slow-burning indie hits, with 2009’s The Vicious Kind and 2012’s Celeste & Jesse Forever both coming in for varying levels of critical acclaim.
Just as the latter allowed Andy Samberg to flex more than just his comedic muscles, here former Gossip Girl-er Blake Lively is allowed to take centre stage as Adaline Bowman, rendered ageless after being struck by lightning, and subsequently flitting from country to country, new ID in tow, for fear of being discovered.
It’s on her most recent life that she encounters kindly philanthropist Ellis (Game Of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman), upon which she starts to question her self-imposed exile from life, love and all its charms. However, as she says at one point, “it’s the little things that slip you up,” and sure enough her past comes roaring back into the present.
Those who saw the atrocious A New York Winter’s Tale may worry about the apparent similarities in the plot description, but this is a much better film. Lively channels Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton in her role as a 100-year-old woman trapped in a 29-year-old’s body, and never at any point does she break character in this regard.
Her performance isn’t exactly the most dynamic, but it doesn’t need to be – she’s trying to be low-key, and definitely succeeds in this regard, even if the supporting players to their best to blow her off the screen. Ellen Burstyn in particular is excellent as her octogenarian daughter (who somehow convinces as Lively’s daughter), as does Huisman, who is charming and endearing.
A big surprise, however, is Ford. Eschewing the easy option of phoning it in, this is some of his best acting for ages – although it would be wrong at this point not to mention Anthony Ingruber, who pulls off an excellent Ford impression as his character’s younger self.
It’s engaging and feel-good, if occasionally dull and predictable, but all in all The Age Of Adaline functions perfectly well as a harmless, fantasy-infused date movie. It’s hard to really dislike.