Friday, April 24, 2015

"The Age of Adaline": a fairy tale becomes a date movie

The Age of Adaline”, directed by Lee Toland Krieger, based on a story by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvadore Paskowitz, is indeed a sweet fairy tale.  Right off the bat, the name of the lead character sounds like a city in Australia!  (There is a similarly named town, spelled differently.)  But it’s set in San Francisco, mainly, over 80 years, starting with the earthquake in 1906.  Yes, people rebuilt and didn’t whine about whether it would happen again.
Adaline is born in 1908.  According to the story, she (Blake Lively, from “Gossip Girl”) is driving in the woods in Marin County one night in 1937 when there is a freak winter thunderstorm with snow.  She almost drowns, goes into hypothermia, and then is struck by lightning, which restarts her heart.  And the telomeres of here cells all have forgotten to age.

So for decades she repeatedly changes her identity. Finally, she falls in love with a young entrepreneur Ellis Jones (Dutch actor Michiel Huisman). Ellis is wealthy from having sold an algorithm (maybe a dreaded software patent?) and is a real handyman fixing up his house (I am not).  The romance starts, and soon Adaline meets his dad, William (Harrison Ford).  Here it gets interesting.
William (played by Australian actor Anthony Ingruber as a young man) had dated Adaline decades before when he was a medical student.  One day, she had a small accident in the woods, and he tied the wound with stiches.  In a curious but small topological plot twist (which I won’t elaborate here), decided to migrate from medicine to physics and math himself,
Now, of course, there is the risk that William will recognize her.
Now, one could say that a story like this allows a lot of manipulation for its own sake.  Adaline has a aughter (Ellen Burstyn) who by now is an elderly woman, leading to paradox.  One recalls “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Dec. 29, 2008).  But here, you don’t get even to watch an irony like a body in reverse chronology.

Could this specific (Adaline) story work with a male character? Imagine never going bald (well that's pretty common), even on the legs. 
Another parallel concept would be a story about a character who is an extraterrestrial, but doesn’t know it.  Imagine the “Mark Zuckerberg Is an Alien” movie.
The popular Canadian actor Richard Harmon (“Judas Kiss”, June 4, 2011, and “The Greatest of All Time”), with a huge resume by age 23, appears Fas the artist-photographer Tony, at almost the beginning of the movie, in present day San Francisco. There is some implied deception in the dialogue.  Then, toward the end, it seems he appears briefly as another photographer decades earlier, as if from a Judas-like time warp.
The film is produced by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Lakeshore, and Lionsgate, which dispensed its musical signature at the beginning. Again, I prefer that studios use their entire mark and finish trademark display before the actual movie music starts. The official site is here
I saw the film at Regal in Ballston, Arlington VA, before a small crowd in a big auditorium.  Some of the audience clapped. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Golden Gate Bridge picture by Frank Schulenberg, under Creative Commons 3.0 Share-Alike license.  The film shows the Bridge under construction in the 1930s.  Look also at the Bridge Comparison graphic here

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