The Age of Adaline


            OK, it’s a sappy romance.  With an impossible story line.  But for those of us in long-term committed relationships (or just plain marriage), if you’re willing to suspend disbelief, it’s worth your time.  Because there are very movies that will make you feel good about sticking with the one love of your life until you grow old together.  As if that’s the one goal of romance worth striving for.  And maybe it is.

            Blake Lively plays Adaline Bowman, a beautiful young lady who was born in San Francisco in 1908.  Yes, you read that right.  And here’s the impossible story line: she’s in a one-car wreck and plunges into a freezing creek.  And there’s some scientific mumbo-jumbo about the molecular structure of her body interacting with unique electrical currents caused by the introduction of a nearby flaming comet.  That, combined with a random lightning strike somehow combined to defibrillate her heart and also simultaneously arrest the aging process in her body.  So that when she revived, after that moment she never aged another minute.

            Well, there could be worse things than being trapped in the body of the 2014 version of Blake Lively.  She remains a lively, attractive, 29 while everyone else around her ages, and the world keeps changing.  She’d already married, had a daughter, and been widowed.  So now her daughter ages while she doesn’t.  At first, she’s able shrug off her friends wondering why she still looks so young while they don’t.  But then a routine traffic stop causes the officer to question the validity of her date of birth on her driver’s license, which in turn arouses the suspicion of higher authorities.  And now she realizes that if she doesn’t want to become a celebrated freak, she’s just going to have to run.  And keep running.  She gets in the habit of changing names and locales every decade.  She takes obscure jobs, like as an archives librarian, even though she is very bright and possesses great facility for foreign languages.  Yes, she’s a deliberate underachiever, because she does not wish to call attention to herself.  And she hates having her photograph taken.

            Meanwhile, her daughter becomes Ellen Burstyn.  The 2014 version, who is 83.  This is Adaline’s one weakness:  she can’t help but keep up with her daughter.  They call frequently, and meet for lunch fairly regularly.  But they must do so anonymously.  And they can’t tell anyone the true nature of their relationship. 

            At first glance, you might think this would be the ideal life:  forever young.  But Adaline has become completely isolated.  She loves her dog, and her greatest sorrow is when the dog gets sick and dies.  But then she just goes and gets another one just like him.  Yes, she allowed herself a romance, once, but got scared and ran away when he started getting serious.  And now, suddenly, many years later, it’s happening again.  She meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman), who’s obviously interested in pursuing the relationship.  Adaline’s daughter has been insisting that she go out and live a little, and so she gingerly and tenderly allows herself a little self-indulgent love interest, but that turns out to have unexpected consequences, as well.

            The best romantic moment?  When Ellis’ father, William (Harrison Ford), asks him if he loves her, and after the expected affirmative, then asks why.  After a moment, Ellis replies, “Because without her, nothing makes sense.”  Well, there’s an exalted view of romance for you.  But it’s sweet and charming, just like the handsome young couple on the screen.  You just have to work harder at suspending your disbelief.


Questions For Discussion:

1)      How does a relationship evolve as the partners grow old together?

2)      Do you think of immortality as not ever aging?  If so, at what age do you envision being in your resurrection form?  Or do those physical parameters no longer apply?


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Supply Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Kaufman , Texas