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INTERACTIVE (Rate the Review)

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance
of things, but their inner significance." ~ Aristotle

Cinema Signal: Not quite a green light but has elements of strong appeal for a limited audience. MOBILE version |
. "The Age of Adaline"
Is immortality a trade-off?

This pseudo-scientific comtemplation of beating the process of ageing is questionable from the start, but it has some things going for it that lifts it above the merely phony. First are its production values and a script that's as well crafted as any risky "what-if" concept permits. Second is the lady playing the title character, the arguably most unflawed beauty in the biz, Blake Lively.

Besides the shallow value of mere good looks, her Adaline is delicate and subtle, credible in the context, allowing us to withhold disbelief long enough to become enraptured with her and her "problem."

For those who have heard otherwise, let us consider that we accept beyond-reality ideas all the time in sci-fis in which people gather powers (keep Spidy in mind), and that's what this is: a sci-fi. Blakely is well backed by the likes of Harrison Ford as her presumed father-in-law and by Ellen Burstyn acting as her aged mother.

At the turn of the 20th century, a weird confluence of events result in 29-year old Adaline's (Lively) power to remain ageless, and this sequence is as well presented visually as it is challenging as the basis of an "out there" story. A narrative voice explains the significance of what we're witnessing on screen.

Opting to avoid the recognition of friends that she's not ageing while they are, she moves around, changing her name, remaining aloof and private. The exception is her daughter Flemming (played by two young versions, then Burstyn). But, in a chancy world you can't control everything. (Like a spiteful old friend turning up who recognizes you from high school).

The monkey wrench in all this is romance, and this angle comes in the form of a natty and sexy Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) who, once he sees Adaline, becomes devoted to the idea of spending the rest of his life with her. As for her, it's clear she's attracted but there's her secret and her need to maintain it. Adaline does everything she can to ward off potential lover off.

Human reality is truly turned upside down in this venture and all assumptions about the arc of life are out. Fascinating, interesting and in the fantasy vein of romance and sci-fi the logic-bending is, perhaps, too close to home, too personal to our own selves. We accept Spidy, but Adaline's fate at the boxoffice is likely to become a different story and a brave attempt.

Given the cast, this romance fantasy is more than the "usual subjects" for the genre. The biggest take-away is the chance it gives Lively to demonstrate star quality. The film hangs on her in every frame of the plot's sometimes surprising twists and turns (kudos to the screewriters) and her holding power lasts to the ultimate one. Very earnestly directed by Lee Toland Krieger ("Celeste & Jesse Forever").

Also: beautifully photographed by David Lanzenberg ("The Signal") whose essential canvas is the Lively face. Hugh Ross narrated.

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                                                                              ~~  Jules Brenner  

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