The Age of Adaline (2015)

(Video on Demand, September 2015) As a Science Fiction film fan with annoying analytical tendencies, I’m often fascinated by those romantic movies that hinge on a clearly science-fictional device (usually time travel or a variant thereof) but otherwise don’t really belong to the SF genre.  The Time Traveller’s Wife, About Time, Premonition, The Lake House… take your pick, and add The Age of Adaline to the list, given how a thin (but definitive) scientific rationale is provided to explain how a woman in her twenties stops aging in 1938 and makes it to 2015 by avoiding permanent relationships.  Much of the film is about what happens when she finally dares to face love, and what happens when the past comes back to haunt her.  Blake Lively is very good in the lead role, while Harrison Ford finally gets to act for the first time in years.  San Francisco is used to lovely effect (although it strains credulity to imagine that an immortal would spend most of her time in such a small city) and Lee Toland Krieger’s direction is quite good.  From a genre Science Fiction perspective, it seems provocative that the comet metaphor doesn’t make any sense, but particularly that the SF intrusion would be perceived as stifling, the heroine only reaching personal growth when it is removed from the world.  (The word “flexibility” is used toward the end of the film in a most telling context.)  That’s the kind of detail that illuminates why while The Age of Adaline may be a film with a Science Fiction element, it’s not really a Science Fiction film… although that shouldn’t be seen as a problem for what is, after all, a reasonably entertaining take on romantic drama musings.

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