Adaline, born in 1908, seems to have a relatively normal life until 1937, when she has a car accident and is stuck at 29 forever, never to age.
Adaline (Blake Lively) was born at the turn of the 20th century, was married, had a daughter and then was widowed. In 1937, at the age of 29, she is on her way to meet her daughter in Northern California when inexplicably it starts to snow. She loses control of her car and it plunges into some water. Again, inexplicably a series of fanciful events all come into play to bring Adaline back to life, but to forever remain 29. It takes her awhile to realize she is not aging and when the FBI turns up to take her away for some "experiments," Adaline decides she must live a life on the run and never tell anyone about her "condition." Thus we now see her in the present day in San Francisco.
We learn all of this through an unseen narrator, and I have to say right up front that I have a problem with films with a great deal of narrative and exposition. I believe film should be a visual medium and let the visuals speak for themselves whenever possible. You know, "a picture is worth a 1000 words?" I not only didn't like so much narration, but the narrator was a bit overdone. He reminded me of Rod Serling saying, "Next stop....the Twilight Zone."
And certainly there is a bit of "The Twilight Zone" in this film of a woman in the 1930's getting into a car crash, and through a series of rather fantastic events happening simultaneously, including a chemical reaction that wouldn't be discovered until 2035, waking up to discover that she will never age and remain 29 forever.
This film is a combination of fantasy, soap opera, love story, Lifetime Movie and fashion show (love Lively's clothes!), but all of that never adds up to a satisfying film.
To enjoy this film you need to not only suspend disbelief, but believe that a cop, after stopping Adaline for a traffic violation, would see her age (45) on her driver's license (remember, she's stuck at 29 forever) and make her show him her birth certificate because she looks too young to be 45. Aren't there plenty of 45-year-olds who look 29? Isn't 60 the new 40 so that makes 40 the new 20?
Also you have to believe that someone noticed she wasn't aging and called the FBI on her (to do some "experiments") which resulted in her escaping, moving and changing her name frequently, never having her picture taken, deciding she would never tell a living soul her "condition" and having a blind best friend.
You will also wonder when exactly she realized she wasn't getting older. I would think it would take her until at least 45 to think, "Gee, I look damn good. How lucky am I?" and then at least until 60 to think, "Mmm, wonder what's going on here." That aspect wasn't really explained nor was it clear at what age she started researching her "condition." You can't tell unless you calculate what year we are in, because, of course, she looks the same all of the time. And does never aging also mean you can never die? I wasn't sure about that. I thought it might turn into a "Lost Horizon" kind of thing.
Another thing I wondered about, even if she has lived 100 years, why would that mean she would be good at Trivial Pursuit? She seemed to know everything about everything AND she could speak all kinds of languages. I could live to be 200 and never master one language let alone five or beat Hubby at Trivial Pursuit.
And finally, she works in a library in the present and was manually filing cards into a card catalog. Not a computer in sight! Geez, already. Where has this director (Leigh Toland Krieger) and the screenwriters been? Card catalogs in libraries went the way of the dinosaurs long ago.
The film gets better in the second half when we are in the present and Harrison Ford makes an appearance as, William, the father of Adeline's current love, Ellis (played by a very handsome and charismatic Michiel Huisman). Wouldn't you know, Adaline and William were in love once back when he was 26 and she was in her 50's (though he thought she was...guess? Right, 29). For some reason never explained, she gave him her real name, though she said people called her "Della." I wish they had done more with this, like have her start up the love affair with the old guy while also romancing the young one. Something. It needed something.
It's painful for me to not like this movie. This is the kind of film that I usually love. You know how much I like Lifetime Movies. But the dialogue was just too cheesy and melodramatic, and I can only suspend disbelief to a certain extent.
Blake Lively, who made her fame and fortune on TV's "Gossip Girls," is certainly a lovely woman and handles this role well, but the script is just not credible even for an incredible story. When Adaline and Ellis meet, their flirty patter is just too cutesy for real life and the fact that he lives across the way from a dance studio and they enjoy watch people dancing as if it was a TV show... Ew. That is the kind of hipster stuff I complained about last week when I reviewed "While We're Young."
I did however like seeing Ellen Burstyn as Adaline's daughter and her calling Blake Lively Mommy. Kathy Baker is always good (she plays William's wife who is none too pleased how taken with Adaline he is). And the kid who played Harrison Ford as a young man (Anthony Ingruber) -- he had this VERY deep voice. Not sure if he was trying to sound like Harrison or they hired him because he DID sound like Harrison. Made me laugh.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Interesting idea but too many holes, the dialogue was too clichéd and melodramatic and the whole thing just didn't gel. Save your dollars and watch it on DVD if I haven't completely turned you off.
Mona Champagne is a bit OCD. She likes things orderly and just so. She schedules everything, including when she and Don will have sex. Her husband, Don, runs a furniture store and he is not happy with his nagging wife. He hires Dusty, a much younger woman, and embarks upon an affair with her. Turns out Dusty is a bit of a gold-digger. In fact, she and her boyfriend try to extort $25,000 from Don by telling him she is pregnant. And if he doesn't pay up, she will tell Mona.
Don can't come up with the money so he tells Mona. When Mona finds out about the affair, it's not good. In fact, it's very, very bad. Mona is determined that nothing and no one is going to mess up her tidy little life. And what is her solution? Why it's what every middle class suburban housewife would decide to do. Murder Dusty, of course. Turns out Mona is a nasty, vile person who will stop at nothing to maintain her little world.
What follows is an exploration of the miserable marriages that exist behind the picture perfect suburban facades. Murdering your husband's mistress seems like a good way to end the affair, right? What follows is a series of silly but nasty and bloody attempts to get rid of Dusty in what I think is supposed to be a dark comedy. It starts out that way but ultimately turns into a nasty little piece of work that doesn't sit that well. It's not that funny and doesn't really say anything new about suburban hypocrisy.
Playing the uptight, controlling character is a familiar role for Heigl. We've seen it before in "Knocked Up" and "The Ugly Truth." And that's kind of funny as she is rumored to be difficult in real life too. So this is a no-brainer for her and actually is rather one-note, despite a bit of emotion at the end of the film. I think she is an appealing actress, and I would like to see her get a really meaty role some time. Patrick Wilson plays the hapless, unhappy husband against type as this is not his usual kind of role. He is funny at times, though corny. James Belushi plays Don's colleague and doesn't do a very good job of it. And he looks like hell. None of these characters are worth rooting for.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like movies such as "Eating Raoul" or "The Cook, the Thief, the Wife and her Lover," you might like this, but just a warning. This one isn't as good as those.
Le Boucher (1970)
A lonely butcher and a repressed school mistress become unlikely friends in a small French town in the shadow of some grisly serial murders.
Director Claude Chabrol was one of the French New Wave directors along with Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer and Rivette. The French Hitchcock, Chabrol also specialized in thrillers and this one is considered by many as his masterpiece and some say the greatest film of all time.
Stephane Audran (probably better known to American audiences for "Babette's Feast") was Chabrol's wife at the time and looks like a French Kim Novak, again harking to Hitchcock. The film also has the intensity, cinematography and eerie soundtrack often attributed to Hitchcock. But Chabrol is more of a poet and this film, despite its thriller status, also has a slow pace and many layers.
Why it's a Must See: "Chabrol uses his camera as writers use a pen, and he has the grace and fluency of a master...Chabrol makes tone poems on thriller themes. Everything in the movie is just about perfect.
---Pauline Kael, The New Yorker
Rosy the Reviewer says...not sure I can say this is the "greatest film of all time, but if you like New Wave French cinema, then you need to add this one to your repertoire.
(In French with English subtitles)
***Book of the Week***
A Modern Marriage: A Memoir by Christy and Mark Kidd (2014)
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