“Frock of ages” is an epithet likely more to apply to Lee Toland Krieger’s The Age of Adaline, in which Blake Lively plays Adaline, condemned by the freak combustion of lightning and water (aha) to remain eternally young, and forced by these strange circumstances to keep a seemly distance from men bound to outage her. Her daughter, meanwhile (played mostly by Burstyn), catches up and then overtakes her in age and wisdom.
With such a far-fetched plot, Krieger has to focus either on a kind of Peter-Pan-meets-Dorian-Gray morality or... the costumes. To be fair, the pitfalls of endless youth get a thorough airing. Their ventilation, however, is stale, repetitive and conventional as Adaline finds her newest love interest (Huisman) is the son, no less, of a former lover (played with wide-eyed astonishment by Harrison Ford). Jilted by Adaline in the 1960s for above-mentioned reasons, he’s determined to find out what the heck is going on.
The costumes, on the other hand, and Lively’s ability to carry them off with the timeless sang-froid of a woman groomed by the 1920s and 30s, are memorable, caught in a freeze frame of dignified sadness. Ultimately, however, Krieger’s film defers to surface aesthetics, squeezing portentous generational significance into an essentially pret-a-porter vehicle.
Age of Adaline | Directed by Lee Toland Krieger (USA 2015) with Blake Lively, Ellen Burstyn, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman. Starts July 9
Originally published in issue #140, July/August 2015.