Blake Lively’s career is fantastically strange – and The Age of Adaline is a highlight

Weither by choice or the fickle nature of Hollywood, many teen stars fade into obscurity after their time in the spotlight. Not Blake Lively: Since the end of Gossip Girl, the controversial teen soap that made her famous in the late 2000s, her star has only risen. In 2022, she’s consistently making headlines as something of a popular tabloid figure, known for her (often insufferable) red carpet antics with husband Ryan Reynolds, her show-stopping Met Gala outfits, and her friendships with megacelebs like Taylor Swift.

However, her veneer of every woman’s sympathy hides a collection of acting that is confusing and at times brilliant – a credit list far more fascinating than many other actors in Lively’s circle. Where you might look at her IMDb and expect to see a laundry list of animated films, superhero sequences, and bland adaptations (see her husband’s IMDb page), Lively’s filmography is surprisingly unconventional.

She played a controversial single mother in Ben Affleck’s critically acclaimed crime thriller The Town and was widely acclaimed for her role as a shark-hunted surfer in The Shallows. She showed gonzo commitment to her performance as a silver-tongued bisexual con man in the bizarre and deeply rooted camp film A simple favor. Elsewhere, she played a conspiracy-theorizing killer and, perhaps sadly, starred in a later period Woody Allen film. But to each of these roles, Lively brings a seductive, witty toughness; a kind of mischievous inscrutability that ensures that, even when the film falters, it is a joy to watch.

Many of these movies were poorly received, but it’s still quite remarkable that Lively continues to pick projects that are conceptually ambitious and likely below her paycheck. In terms of former teen stars done well, only Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, megastars turned indie darlings, have more interesting track records.

One of my favorite films in Lively’s oeuvre is the strange, grippingly melancholy romantic drama The Age of Adaline. In the film, Lively plays the titular Adaline, a woman born in 1908 who, after crashing her car during a thunderstorm, becomes trapped at the age of 29. ridiculous premise, but this elegant, pleasantly self-serious film totally sells it.

For much of the film, Adaline floats through life as a woman with no fixed home and no fixed identity, moving around every ten years to evade the FBI’s interest in her condition, and constantly letting amorous lovers and empty houses in her wake. She lives a painfully lonely existence; her daughter – who grows older while her mother remains young – is the only person on earth who knows her secret.

The Age of Adaline is a little hammy at times – a tad too stylized, with a slowness that nevertheless fits a story about a woman who has to exist alone for decades – but for the most part, Lively is perfectly cast as this film is emotionally distant. main role.

Harrison Ford in The Age of Adaline.
‘A great late career turn’. Harrison Ford in The Age of Adaline. Photo: Diyah Pera/AP

Adaline’s glamorous version of vagrancy isn’t the main driver of the film, though. In the second half, The Age of Adaline turns into a more traditional love triangle romance, evoking a twist that is equally bizarre and heartbreaking. I won’t spoil it here, but needless to say, The Age of Adaline squeezes a surprising amount of suspense and narrative drive from an undeniably intricate plot thread.

Where lesser actors may have leaned towards the hammy B-movie restrictions, Lively and her co-stars – Harrison Ford, in a great late career turn, as well as Ellen Burstyn as Adaline’s daughter – wonderfully play their part. But in the end, it’s Lively who holds it all together, proving her worth as a truly magnetic star with a dedication to the craft that has elevated every role she’s taken.

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