Blu-ray Review: The Age of Adaline

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New to Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate is The Age of Adaline, a handsomely-produced, well-acted film that manages to explore a bunch of tangents without ever figuring out what it's actually about. Blake Lively stars as Adaline Bowman, a woman born in 1908 but who looks 28 even in 2015. As a young woman, she nearly died after a car crash plunged her into and ice-cold lake one night. A lightning strike jump-started her heart and did some other wacky stuff to her internal organs and nervous system. We're told precisely what occurred internally, in science fiction-type terms, via extensive voice-over narration.

Now Adaline never shows the slightest signs of aging and is seemingly impervious to all forms of illness. She can be scarred (a stitched-up cut to the hand is utilized as a rather hokey plot point), but she seems immune even to the effects gravity has on the human body over the decades. She doesn't even gain so much as a single pound over the course of nearly 100 years of adult life. In order to avoid anyone noticing how tight, toned, and spry she remains, Adaline must regularly change her identity. She procures phony IDs, etc., but makes absolutely no effort whatsoever to alter her physical appearance. Her hairstyle, her makeup, and her fashion sense remains unchanged, regardless of the fact that the FBI is in pursuit of her. 

Age of Adaline BD cover (302x380).jpg The Age of Adaline seems proud of its logic-defying attitude toward its central character's conundrum. As Adaline re-establishes herself in various locations as a library worker (she never aspires to more than this), we don't learn anything remotely interesting about her. This type of "immortal" character has been explored far more effectively in superhero and sci-fi fare like the Wolverine films, Doctor Who, Torchwood, and a variety of others. It wasn't a bad idea to take the supernatural elements out of it and look at how eternal youth and health would change a normal, everyday person, but these filmmakers (Lee Toland Krieger directed) can't seem to figure out how to approach it.

By the time we get the crux of a the story, it's too late to fully develop. Adaline encounters an old flame, William (Harrison Ford), because she happens to be dating his son, Ellis (Michiel Huisman). That's pretty contrived and unlikely to begin with, but it gets worse as William begins to put the pieces together. He's now 70ish and she looks exactly like she did the last time he saw her. At that point it makes sense (purely from a point of storytelling convenience) why Adaline simply had to retain the exact same look and wardrobe for some 40-50 years. None of the ensuing soul-searching between Adaline, William, or Ellis adds up to the emotional catharsis that was so obviously intended.

Lionsgate offers a technically superb Blu-ray presentation, with a 1080p HD transfer complemented by a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those of us not Atmos-enabled) soundtrack. Special features include a commentary track with director Krieger, a half-hour 'making-of' ("A Love Story for the Age"), a 20-minute production design featurette ("Style Throughout the Ages"), and a ten-minute look at the YouTube discovery Anthony Ingruber, the actor who does an uncanny impression of the young Harrison Ford. There are also a few minutes of deleted scenes.

Everyone in The Age of Adaline's capable cast tries hard to breathe life into the material, but the film remains a non-starter.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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