"On November 1st, 2015, at precisely 8:08 in the evening, an overly dramatic narrator began to relay a tale in the living room of an insignificant movie review blogger. The story he told was about a single woman; Adaline Bowman. In painstaking detail, he dramatically glossed over her life, spouting times and dates until the film's introduction was complete and he had finished relaying the backstory we already knew -- that Adaline, because of reckless driving and pseudo-science, was magically cursed to look like a twenty-nine year-old Blake Lively.... for the rest of her life."
|Doesn't sound too terrible to me...|
This movie is an astonishing mishmash of sweeping romance and melodramatic ridiculousness. The main idea -- a love story surrounding a lonely immortal -- is a classic that is capable of some pretty grand drama. The way this movie portrays it is often ill advised. If I didn't know better, I'd think they created the more unnecessary plot elements just so they could poke holes in them. Mainly, their explanation for how she gets to be immortal in the first place is a silly attempt at being science-y. Don't call it science. It's a fantasy, so call it a fantasy. Then you don't have to explain everything and you can spend more time showing Lively gliding around in elegant dresses. Win-win.
The film's main redeeming quality is that it really is a beautiful sight to see. It oozes elegance; from the leading lady, to the music, down to the framing of each shot. It lures you in, inviting you to relax and let the film just soak in, and for the most part this works. Mainly, all the drama of the plot is presented in a very mellow way (I know, it is a melodrama, but here there's a big emphasis on the "mellow" part) not trying to force you to care about Adaline's woes as much as she does which is definitely a good thing.
There were, however, two slip-ups on this point. The first was a particular scene, that for a "normal" person was a sure-fire tear-jerker, but for me (cold-hearted person that I am) it went too far trying to pull out tears, and it snapped me out of my relaxed enjoying state. And the second was whenever the narrator was talking. Seriously, it was just too much. It was so over-the-top and cheesy that if you were to satire it, you wouldn't actually have to enhance it any. It's at satire level already -- but is taking itself seriously. I didn't know whether I should laugh or groan.
|Still can't decide...|
Blake Lively as our ageless heroine matched the movie's calm, cold, and elegant tone with her demeanor, which is always something I like to see. Though at first it may seem wrong to have your movie's heroine be as aloof as Adaline is -- even beyond the requirements set down by plot and character arc -- but it really becomes the thing that sets Adaline's movie apart. Lively takes Adaline's smooth, refined voice, untouchable elegance, and tragic melancholy right up to the edge of believably, and sticks her toes over the chasm. And the result of the daring portrayal, for me, is what made this movie memorable. You could argue she took it too far, but since she matched with the film's level on everything, I say no.
The supporting cast took its role very seriously and never ventured to do anything but support, and thus feels a little meager. Harrison Ford does some good things and earns his place. Michiel Huisman lacks what you would really expect out of the main love-interest in a romance like this, but it's less his fault and more the script's penchant for rabbit trails. He gets some good moments of charm in there, but never gets to go very deep. The surprise for me was Ellen Burstyn as Adaline's older daughter -- and by that I don't mean "oldest daughter," I mean "daughter who is older than her," at least as far as looks are concerned. The younger woman playing motherly to an older woman was strange, but wound up being a surprise highlight of the film for me. Their unique relationship was portrayed very well, and was interesting to watch.
|Weird, but interesting.|
The film also had a surprisingly refined sense of humor -- when it did humor that is. It looked lovely and succeeded in presenting the film's main idea in a fairly pleasing and romantic kind of way. As far as time goes, there was more spent successfully than unsuccessfully. However, when things go unsuccessfully, they go to very far that way. The film's holes are painful, and made even worse from being presented in such a factual manner. And the previously mentioned rabbit trails distract and send the plot on aimless loops that just don't fit in the end. I find the film lands in a balance for me; I liked some things; didn't others; but for the most part I just don't care -- it just isn't the kind of movie I would ever love. So though I will say that it was worth watching, and a well-made movie, I imagine that only people who already love romantic melodramas will really appreciate what this film does.
"Then, at exactly 10:00 that same evening, 112 minutes later, the movie ended, the credits rolled, and the insignificant blogger went on with her life."