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Review Roundup: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford Impress in ‘The Age of Adaline,’ but the Premise is Pure ‘Hokum’

Review Roundup: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford Impress in 'The Age of Adaline,' but the Premise is Pure 'Hokum'

As Serena van der Woodsen, the prep-school princess of “Gossip Girl,” Blake Lively mastered a certain phlegmatic poise. Even when the bitchy backbiting of the CW’s teen soap spiraled out of control, the actress kept her willowy cool, an air of mystery that serves her well in director Lee Toland Krieger’s otherwise ludicrous romance, “The Age of Adaline.”

Lively stars as Adaline Bowman, a woman whose body is frozen at the age of 29 even as her soul, and the world around her, witness eight decades’ worth of changes. Though long reticent to develop close relationships, lest her secret be revealed, Adaline finds herself drawn to Ellis Jones (“Game of Thrones” hunk Michiel Huisman), a wealthy philanthropist with old-fashioned tastes, and the film, full of sumptuous fashions that would make “Gossip Girl” green with envy, plumbs the dynamic of Adaline’s strange situation.

Lively, who outside of “Gossip Girl” has maintained a relatively low profile, focusing on unflashy supporting performances in “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” (Rebecca Miller, 2009) and “The Town” (Ben Affleck, 2010), turns her retiring persona into an asset here, and has been widely praised for her elegant, earnest performance. So, too, have Ellen Burstyn, as Adaline’s aging mother, and Harrison Ford, as Ellis’ father, elevating material that manages to be both “wackadoo,” to use Inkoo Kang’s term, and quite broad—perhaps unsurprising given Krieger’s uneven track record, including “The Vicious Kind” (2008) and the lovely “Celeste and Jesse Forever” (2012). Nevertheless, a few years on from her reign as primetime’s favorite ice queen, it appears that Lively might finally have her star turn.

Read excerpts from reviews of “The Age of Adaline,” in theaters tomorrow:

Justin Chang, Variety
“Most of all, though, [‘Adaline’ is] a vehicle for Lively’s expressive yet
underplayed performance, the sort of quietly commanding star turn that
makes you wonder why this performer (still best known for ‘Gossip Girl’)
hasn’t received more big-screen opportunities over the past decade.”

Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter
“An elegantly confected cream puff of a melodrama, ‘The Age of Adaline’
plays like an exercise in handling a preposterous story, booby-trapped
for maximal ridiculousness, with tasteful conviction. Far from the
bloated tearjerker suggested by the trailer, the film is pleasant,
respectable and a bit dull, reining in the inherent silliness of its
material and taking few risks”

Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“What’s missing from the movie isn’t really [Lively’s] fault at all: The premise
opens up a thousand questions about what a life that spans more than a
century of social upheaval and modern progress means, but it’s mostly
interested in being a prettily moody romance. Harrison Ford, as Ellis’
father, brings a smart twist in the last third of movie, and some
welcome emotional heft.”

Genevieve Koski, The Dissolve
“There is no winking, no meta flourish, no nudging the audience to laugh
at the heightened, broad story and emotions. Those viewers hoping to do
so will be disappointed by the unfailingly earnest ‘Age Of Adaline,’
which seeks to reward viewers who buy into its ludicrous premise with a
frequently beautiful, occasionally stirring cinematic trinket.”

Inkoo Kang, The Wrap
“‘The Age of Adaline’ begins with such a wackadoo premise that you wish
the filmmakers would commit to the nuttiness, or at least explore and
explain how its weird world works. Instead, Adaline’s forever-29 status
just sprinkles some cheese on a timid and unimaginative, if stylishly
framed, romance.

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