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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Age of Adaline

Romantic fantasy of a woman who ceases to age

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2015, English, Italian, Portuguese) Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) is well over one hundred years old but hasn't aged at all since 1936 when she was 29 years old. On December 31st, 2014, Jennifer Larson, her current alias, takes a taxi from Chinatown in San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin in order to obtain a new forged identity, the narrator (Hugh Ross) relates in the opening of director Lee Toland Krieger's wonderful romantic fantasy from a screenplay by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz. Incapable of changing, for nearly eight decades she's lived on the run without having a life of her own.

At the Civic Archives where she works, Jennifer watches newsreels to be digitized from the early decades of the 20th century. Born on January 1st, 1908, an only child, Adaline married Clarence James Prescott in 1929; her daughter Flemming was born soon after.

Ten months after Clarence was killed in 1936 while working on the Golden Gate Bridge, Adaline while driving through Sonoma encountered a freak snowstorm. Her car plunged off a bridge into frigid water where her body underwent anorexic reflex, slowing heart rate and reducing respiration, just before the vehicle was struck by lightning, resulting in a compression of electrons in her DNA, a condition affecting her telomeres to be named the Bowman Principle when discovered and understood in the year 2035.

From that moment forward until the present Adaline hasn't aged a day, which began raising questions and suspicions from acquaintances and authorities. When the FBI took her into custody for an interrogation with intended testing, she fled, leaving Flemming in 1954 in college: "It has to be this way." Each decade she changed her name, residence, and appearance.

Now she plans a move to Oregon as Susan Fleisher. At a New Year's Eve party with her blind friend Regan (Lynda Boyd), who knows her as Amanda and thinks her long-time friend is like herself past middle age, Jennifer meets Ellis Jones (Michael Huisman) in an elevator for 29 floors, whom she leaves on the sidewalk for a taxi, advising him against "putting his hand in places it doesn't belong."

In a restaurant Adaline spends her birthday with Flemming (Ellen Burstyn, once again in a role in which she is older than her parent), who is 85. Bringing her a donation of "flowers" - three books with titles of Daisy Miller, White Oleander, and Dandelion Wine - Ellis, a member of the board, appears at the library, surprising Jennifer, offering a valuable donation of books for the collection. But when she declines to be photographed or accept a dinner date, he threatens to retract his donation.

She relents and acquiesces to lunch at a location he assures her she's never seen before; he, a mathematician who developed an algorithm for successful economic forecasting, reveals the source of his fortune. Still unsuccessful at winning her over, Ellis wagers everything on a gambit that she will laugh at his telling her a joke involving Ted Williams and a horse that can hit and field baseballs.

Instructing her accountant to add Fleisher as another co-signer's name, Adaline's own primary means of income derives from an investment in Xerox stocks at the company's inception. Finally won over, though unwilling to reveal much about herself ("It's better this way"), Adaline begs Ellis: "Tell me something I can hold onto and never let go." "Let go," he answers.

Following a domestic tragedy of her dog's death, she turns on Ellis for pursuing her to her residence. Admitting to Flemming that she's "Tired of running, lying to good people," her daughter tells her: "Stop…. You've got nothing but future." Flemming urges her mother to apologize to Ellis: "Do it for me."

Adaline takes Ellis "someplace he's never been before" in San Francisco, a former picture house that had been an artificial open-air theater with cars parked in front of a screen and a ceiling artfully depicting the night sky. When Ellis asks her to accompany him for weekend at his parents' home for their 40th anniversary celebration, she agrees, driving his Saab and picking up his younger sister Kiki (Amanda Crew) - who remarks, "This is the new one?" - on the way.

Inside his parents' house, Ellis says by way of introduction: "Dad, this is …" "Adaline," interrupts William Jones (Harrison Ford). Mr Jones then apologizes, explaining that she looks exactly like a young American woman, studying French, he met by happenstance in England in the 1960s. Jennifer accepts his act of contrition, saying that she's Adaline's daughter and that her mother passed away six years ago.

(What are the odds, Ellis?) William relates how at 26 in his second year in medical school he and Adaline were together for five weeks in London before returning to the States where she convinced him to pursue his real love of becoming an astronomer. In an aside, his wife Kathy (Kathy Bates) confesses she's upset from his account of Adaline, feeling "second choice."

Jennifer learns that William became a prominent astronomer at Stanford who named a comet Della 15 that he expected of all known comets would make the closest approach to Earth, but his prediction in the early 1980s failed to make an appearance, "like your mother, a near miss." Similarly, he had waited on a bench for Adaline with an engagement ring in his pocket when Adaline "stood me up." Jennifer assures him: "She loved you, too."

The family and guest play Trivial Pursuit, resulting in the end of William's long streak of victories at the game of nostalgia. When Ellis confesses his profound love for Jennifer and hopes for sharing a future, Jennifer flees in his Saab. "Do you love her?" William asks his son: "How do you know?" Ellis answers: "Nothing makes sense without her."

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

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