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The Age of Adaline

Year: 2015
Production Co: Lakeshore Entertainment
Studio: Lionsgate
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Writer: J Mills Goodloe/Salvador Paskowitz
Cast: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Ellen Burstyn, Harrison Ford, Kathy Baker, Amanda Crew

I think this film did okay commercially but it didn't really like any fires with critics – not that love stories usually do.

But when they're done well, they're not schmaltzy and they have a good idea behind them I'm a complete sucker for them and I loved everything about this film. The first high note is Blake Lively. After watching Age of Adaline, I re-watched Green Lantern just to see if she had the same quality and realised how out of place she was in a modern superhero flick as a result. When her new beau's sister asks if they've done it yet and Adaline answers 'ten minutes ago right where you're sitting', it sounds like the classiest response in the world.

The reason why is that while Lively is certainly gorgeous looking, she seems to have an old soul in a young body – dressing, moving and speaking like a 1940s movie star. She's simply captivating and the role couldn't be any more tailor made for her.

She plays the woman of the title born in the early 1900s and the victim of a freak accident that stops the aging process. Courtesy of a near drowning and a lightning bolt, some cellular process is explained in a voiceover but to be honest it doesn't really matter – it's just foil for the story to happen.

In short order we learn about Adaline's life, having to change identity and move to a new place to live every few years because of the scientific freak she knows she would end up if anyone discovered her secret (early on she's sought out by the FBI but manages to escape and live under the radar from then on).

We meet her living in modern-day San Francisco, working a quiet job in a library, enjoying a relationship with her now-aged daughter (Ellen Burstyn) and trying to enjoy life as much as she can. But when she meets young, handsome and determined industrialist Ellis (Michiel Huisman), she's as smitten as he is and decides it might finally be time to stop running.

The third act twist comes about when Ellis takes Adaline home to meet his parents, played by Kathy Baker and Harrison Ford. As William, Ford instantly recognises the lover he had as a young man who abandoned him when he needed her most.

Adaline does her best to convince everyone he must have known her mother and tries to forget it, even though she knows full well what heartbreak she's caused in her life.

Like Lively herself, the movie has a lush golden era tinge – in everything from the performances to the love story. I couldn't help but like it because as cynical and intellectual as I ever try to be I can't help but adore the message that finding someone to love is the most important thing in life and everything we do should lead to and service it.

When such a sentiment is papered over with the same tired Hollywood rom-com glazing or the sugar drowns it out (hello Nicholas Sparks) it's enough to make you roll your eyes and gag, but when a screenwriter and a director have the conviction to stick to the core idea, it can be magical as it is here.

Plenty of critics and audiences have taken issue with science and the premise, but they're missing the point. We don't ask if it's really possible to drive a DeLorean back to 1955 or fall into a black hole to communicate across time using a wristwatch, do we?

At the time of 2015 release it was also welcome counter-programming to the endless superheroes, spandex and sequels. It's an original story, an accessible one and despite Huisman as Ellis being a little bit bland, the casting is perfect (it's also the most alive – and interested – Harrison Ford has looked in years). If it doesn't melt you a little bit you're made of harder stuff that I am.

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