There's no question that Blake Lively was born to play the role of Serena Van Der Woodsen. And so, once Gossip Girl ended, her place in the pop culture world seemed somewhat perilous. True, she had appeared in films like The Town and Savages while Gossip Girl was still on the air, but these were never starring roles that required her to carry an entire film by herself. Thus, The Age of Adaline marks a noticeable sea change in Lively's career.
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger, of The Vicious Kind and Celeste and Jesse Forever fame, the hokey plot of The Age of Adaline manages to stay afloat because of Blake Lively's keen ability to bring Serena Van Der Woodsen to every character she portrays. She's that girl with a certain je ne sais quoi and unattainability that men go crazy for. As Adaline Bowman, a less trashy, more grown up version of Van Der Woodsen, Lively appropriates her etherealness for the benefit of the fantastical storyline.
To explain away some of the heavier issues/difficulties with suspending disbelief, the narrator (voiced by Hugh Ross) overly intervenes at times to convince us that Adaline's plight is completely possible. After getting into a car accident while snow fell in Sonoma County for the first time maybe ever, Adaline lands in freezing cold water, whereupon her temperature drops to 87 degrees, she technically dies and then gets struck by a bolt of lightning that resuscitates her and prevents her from enduring the aging process.
A little slow on the uptake, Adaline starts to catch on that something is off when people grow suspicious of the fact that her own daughter, Flemming (Ellen Burstyn), looks older than her. Considering she's supposed to be 45 years old right around the time of the Communist witch hunts in the 50s (specifically 1953, the year of the Rosenberg execution), the mistrust and skepticism she encounters from authorities is eerily substantial.
After being cornered by the Feds, Adaline escapes and begins her process of reinvention, changing identities every decade to avoid questions or controversy. Before changing her name, however, she meets a young American G.I. named William Jones in London, falls in love and goes back to San Francisco with him. On the way to meet him one day, however, she sees an engagement ring box in his hand and immediately has the epiphany that, no, of course she can't be with him--or anyone else. Until 2014, that is, when she swoons over, creepily enough, the son of the aforementioned G.I. (Harrison Ford).
Granted, Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman, who bears a resemblance to Eric Bana) is the one who pursues her, even going so far as to find out her address (a move that vexes Adaline to no end). Wanting to resist his persistence, but unable to--especially after Flemming encourages the relationship--Adaline gives in against her better judgement. Subsequently, she has the awkward realization that William is Ellis' father after accompanying him to their home to celebrate his parents' fortieth wedding anniversary.
The disturbing implications of Adaline having boned both father and son alike do not seem to bother William as much as the fact that Adaline is going to disappear from Ellis' life the same way she did from his all those years ago. In the end, the overt message seems to be, if you wait long enough you're bound to find the love that was destined for you. That, or if you wait long enough you're bound to get struck by lightning twice.