You may have seen the ads for “The Age of Adaline” and simply dismissed the movie as being geared toward a younger audience because it stars twentysomething Blake Lively in the title role.
But Adaline has a secret. She’s been 29 years old for almost eight decades, thanks to a freak accident which left her unable to age.
So, really, this is the perfect movie for baby boomers since we are often accused of not wanting to grow up. Trust me, any desire you have to be immortal is likely to disappear the minute you hear Ellen Burstyn call Blake Lively “mama.”
Although the plot itself has a number of holes and there’s a ridiculous narration that attempts to offer a scientific explanation for Adaline’s miracle, it’s worth suspending disbelief for a couple of hours to get lost in the story and consider the pros and cons of staying young forever.
Adaline easily beats everyone at Trivial Pursuit, having personally lived through many of the events covered in the game. She doesn’t need to have a lot of photos of herself because, as she admits, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.” She has an amazing wardrobe that would now be considered the height of vintage.
But I’m being glib. There are a lot of real issues raised here, and the movie takes its subject matter very seriously.
By outliving everyone, Adaline continually experiences great loss. Putting down her beloved dog is devastating – as it’s been with every pet for almost a century. Her elderly daughter is moving far away, where a warmer climate will be kinder to her bones. Adaline understandably refuses to get too close to anyone any more because how much sorrow can a person put themselves through?
So when she meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman), a handsome, funny and intelligent philanthropist more than 70 years her junior, her first instinct is to run. But she’s tired of being alone and she slowly allows herself to start falling in love with him.
Ellis takes Adaline to meet his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) and events take a surprising turn, which I will not ruin for you here.
I enjoyed the performances, although I’m not sure if Lively’s stiffness is intentional and meant to convey her character’s old-school mannerisms and her wariness of the endless future she sees ahead of her, or if she just feels awkward with some of the material. She gives Adaline a regal attitude which may accurately represent the time period in which she grew up but feels a little too stilted. I think if I’m lucky enough to reach 107, I will more likely be walking around in yoga pants and sneakers and swearing like a sailor.
Ultimately, that’s the point of “The Age of Adaline” – and why you should see it.
It reminds us that life is finite and that, in many ways, that’s what makes it meaningful. It solidly brings home the fact that we should be embracing our age, proud to show off the laugh lines and love handles earned by living a rich, full life. We should be celebrating the wisdom that comes with age, remaining true to ourselves and unconcerned about what others think of us.
And, above all, we should be counting our blessings if we are lucky enough to have someone we love to grow old with.
Lois Alter Mark blogs at Midlife at the Oasis and is a regular contributor to Huffington Post. She is the reigning champion of Blogger Idol and was recently named Humor Writer of the Month by Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. Lois won BlogHer Voices of the Year Awards in 2012 and 2013, and writes regularly on pop culture and travel. Because of her blog, Oprah Winfrey selected her as an Ultimate Viewer and took her to Australia on the trip of a lifetime. A member of the San Diego Film Critics Society, she was the Flicks for Kids editor at NickJr.com and a contributing writer for Entertainment Weekly for more than a decade. Transplanted New Yorkers, Lois and her husband of 32 years now live in San Diego, where they have turned into weather wimps and complain about the pizza. Their grown kids are, of course, both on the East Coast. You can follow Lois on Facebook or Twitter.