'The Age of Adaline': What the Critics Are Saying

Blake Lively defies time in this romantic tale of an ageless woman who is perpetually 29 years old.

A young woman (Blake Lively) at the turn of the 20th century suffers an accident that renders her ageless, perpetually appearing as a 29-year-old. After years of living in solitude she meets a man (Michiel Huisman) who may be worth risking her immortality for.

Celeste and Jesse Forever director Lee Toland Krieger helms the romantic tale, which also stars Harrison Ford and Ellen Burstyn.

The film opens on a softer weekend at the box office, one week ahead of Disney/Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron, but will still likely finish below Furious 7, now in its fourth weekend, and compete with Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 for the second-place slot. 

Read what top critics are saying about The Age of Adaline:

The Hollywood Reporter's Jon Frosch calls Lively a “preternaturally poised blonde whose statuesque beauty is softened by kind, squinty eyes and a melancholy spaciness” who has “long been ripe for a breakthrough lead role that allows her to stretch and surprise.” This film “doesn’t quite give her all that, but it’s a significant step in the right direction.”

“Movies revolving around time-defying protagonists have bedeviled auteurs as wildly talented as Francis Ford Coppola and David Fincher,” and if director Krieger “fares better, it’s partly because he sets his sights lower. 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."

Lively “persuasively pulls off the aural and visual incongruity of being — literally — an old soul in a young body. The performance is all the more impressive for not coming off as overly studied; Lively has a refreshingly naturalistic acting style, and she brings a quiet, unshowy gravity to the role.” However, “for all its competence and polish, the movie feels a bit bland and noncommittal. ... Whatever its flaws,” the film shows that Krieger “can work effectively on a bigger canvas, and that Lively can hold the center of a movie with her stillness — promising omens for their futures.”

The Guardian's Jordan Hoffman says the film is “Ford’s best performance in 22 years. You have to go all the way back to The Fugitive to find a film that made better use of one of cinema’s bigger icons. That really wasn’t what I was expecting when I went into this mid-budget, gushy fantasy-romance flick.” And 82-year-old Burstyn’s scenes “opposite Lively have a uniqueness you aren’t likely to find outside of an actors’ workshop exercise. By and large, Lively holds her own. It’s a hard role. She has to maintain an older person’s distinction, but one masquerading behind the spark of youth. It’s a side of her we certainly haven’t seen before." The film, “while frequently preposterous — has just enough pixie dust that it ought to find a fan base among romantic types.”

The Washington Post's Stephanie Merry writes “it’s a little shocking to watch The Age of Adaline, which features a 20-something acting like a grown-up. The title character doesn’t flash her privates in public or get blackout drunk or sleep around. She’s mature. She reads for pleasure, sips champagne in moderation and spends quiet evenings with her King Charles spaniel.” The film’s premise is “relayed occasionally by an overbearing narrator who provides more unintentional comedy than insight. He uses a lot of big, arcane words that might have been pulled off of the periodic table of elements, for all this unscientific viewer knows, as if anyone watching actually thought the plot was plausible.” The movie “works best as a simple story of boy meets girl; girl falls in love; girl mulls whether or not to reveal that she’ll stay young forever. Everything else is just a lot of unnecessary noise.”

USA Today's Claudia Puig notes, “The premise has intriguing potential” that “may have the unexpected effect of encouraging women to embrace aging — since it could always be worse" as “the emotional toll it takes on the title character is at the heart of this far-fetched, but conventional, tale.” And “the story feels like a less complicated companion to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Obvious logical questions are ignored.” And while Huisman’s character is “given to romantic gestures and looks good in a suit,” he and Lively "lack a convincing chemistry.” The film, “with its vapidly romantic obsessions, glossy look and one-dimensionality . . . feels like a time-traveling Nicholas Sparks romance.”

New York Daily News' Katherine Pushkar gives it three out of five stars and says it “draws from an esteemed lineage. There are touches here of Dorian Gray, Benjamin Button, The Tin Drum, Orlando and even a bit of X-Men. But the true inspiration is those old-fashioned romantic fantasies from the 1940s, the kind that used to run on Channel 11 in the middle of the day, classics like Portrait of Jennie or Stairway to Heaven. ... As the story goes back and forth in time, you don’t have to work too hard to come up with questions,” because “This is pretty schmaltz done right.” Enjoy “unabashed melodrama, a glamorous ’40s-inspired wardrobe and gorgeous set design."