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Review: In 'The Age of Adaline', ageless Blake Lively gets old fast

Blake Lively and Michiel Huisman star in this lunkheaded fantasy romance in which Adaline doesn’t age after 29.
Blake Lively and Michiel Huisman star in this lunkheaded fantasy romance in which Adaline doesn’t age after 29.
Published Apr. 22, 2015

Poor Adaline Bowman, sentenced to an eternity of looking like Blake Lively, by a movie premise more preposterous than anything Vin Diesel tried lately. Thanks to scientific hoo-hah that won't be discovered until 2035, Adaline never ages.

Her movie gets old quickly.

The Age of Adaline is a lunkheaded fantasy romance, gliding over expectations at first, simply because it's somewhat original. Lively is lovely as an heiress widow whose drowning in 1930 was prevented by cold water and hot lightning that would cause electrocution anywhere else.

Adaline becomes stuck at age 29, living the next 85 years in San Francisco under different identities, moving on when anyone notices how youthful she has remained. Love is out of the question since everyone else dies. All Adaline has going for her are generations of the same dog species, an aversion to being photographed and spiffy fashion for all occasions, all eras.

It's amusing for a while, even the stuffy, overused narrator (Hugh Ross) forcing sense on all this silly sentimentalism. Then like Adaline the movie stalls in its development, taking too long to add a tempting romance with a hunky philanthropist (Michiel Huisman, Game of Thrones).

And I wish the shredding effects of that hook-up on this movie could be fully explained without spoilers. Screenwriters J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz neglected to consider the Jerry Springer-esque complications of how they chose to find a happy ending. Or worse, thought viewers aren't smart enough to notice. Let's just say Adaline's holiday dinners are going to be awkward.

Through it all, Lively's Adaline will hold her cheekbones high, her gait perfectly suitable for catwalking. If nothing else, The Age of Adaline provides Lively a handy costuming reel to audition for period pieces. Need a Julie Christie type from the '60s, or a Lauren Bacall from the '40s? A modern evening gown slinkster? Lively can do all that, right here.

Lively and Huiman — think Joe Manganiello lite — are immensely photogenic but the saccharine plot and its cavities are lifted by old pros in the cast. In only a handful of scenes Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker bring the Sirkian melodrama the rest of the movie begs for. As a helpful age-gauge, Adaline's doting daughter is nicely played by Ellen Burstyn, 82, milking and mocking the anachronism.

This movie should be a fine reminder of how effective supernatural romantic fantasy can be. Certainly Ghost and Heaven Can Wait are no less ridiculous but those films embraced and danced with the notion. Like its heroine, The Age of Adaline is afraid of its emotions, and stuck flat-footed in time.

Contact Steve Persall at spersall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.