The Age of Adaline, Aging, and the odd Bashing of Nicholas Sparks
It was Tuesday night movie night again this week. Something which we’ve had to miss due to my husband’s short stint in Jujitsu classes. However, a love of movies (okay, popcorn for him) and a need to sit and relax for an evening won out and the Tuesday night movie nights are back! Yay for me!
Actually, they had returned last week with, “The Longest Ride,” but we walked out of it and went to Walmart, that was how bad it was (trust me, this is a big deal, I hate going to Walmart. But not as much as I hate cowboy movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels, it would seem). Which we should have known, it was a movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, something I have learned to avoid like the plague. But I had, stupidly, thought his writing and storytelling would have improved after years of working on the craft…but it would seem I was wrong. I had written a review that I planned on posting afterwards, but I was so angry and disgusted with how terrible it was that my writing didn’t even make sense, was only a jumble of rage and shock that someone with such terrible skill could have such a long and lucrative career.
But I have distracted myself again. My hatred (Jealousy for? Not for his ability but his success despite of it?) for anything Nicholas Sparks related can do that.
On a happier note, I loved The Age of Adaline.
The first thing I noticed when we went to the theatre was that, while it was a usual Tuesday night movie night for us, it was not for everyone else. In this case, it was ladies night at the movies. The line up and lobby was filled with women. (We only have one movie theatre in this town that plays one movie at a time, so when you go, you only see those that are watching the same movie. It’s not like those multi-screen theatres where anyone could be watching anything playing within the next half an hour or so. These people were all there for the Age of Adaline.) Which then caused my husband some worry. “What is this movie?”
You see, for the most part, if it is decently good and appeals to everyone, we will go to the show even if we have no idea what it is about. It’s a cheap night out and we truly love the popcorn and, well, movies in general. The only ones we usually turn away from are those cheap horrors meant to scare instead of portraying a good story and, actually, I think that’s mostly what we tend to avoid. That and Nicholas Sparks movies…Oh, and anything pertaining to the holocaust I am forced to watch alone. Which, for me, is some weird obsession, probably owing to past lives in WWII (I’m sure I could easily investigate my love of holocaust movies due to the theme of survival and courage and etc, but for now, I like the past life theory because it is so much more interesting.).
So, I told him what the movie was about and he seemed okay with it, but did understand the overwhelming ratio of women to men.
Which leaves me to wonder, why is it that when it is considered a “chick flick,” the theatre is filled with women. When it is anything else, action, suspense, thriller, all movies that could be seen as a “guy movie,” the audience is pretty mixed. Are women more willing to watch all movies, even if the premise is something that would appeal more to men? Or do we just like more movies? Are all humans hardwired with a love of action and suspense and comedy but women have the extra wires for romantic dramas and foreign films? Yes, I’m being rather sexist here and generalizing men and women, but you have to admit, when there is a movie that is anything “romantic-themed,” the theatre really shows a lack of the male population. And if they are there, it’s usually just one male with one female, the man being there with his significant other that actually wanted to watch the movie.
I’m not saying men don’t like these types of movies, I’m just saying, you don’t catch them at the theatre unless they are with a woman. You would find men at actions or comedies unaccompanied by women, but rarely at movies such as, The Age of Adaline.
I could ponder this question for the remainder of this post, and probably get myself into a great deal of trouble and have all the exceptions pointed out to me and the chavinism of my writing criticized, so I won’t continue. I will leave it as a simple observation I have made from going to many, many, many movies over the course of my adult life. The Age of Adaline was most definitely a movie that appealed to women, at least to the women of my little town.
For a quick story breakdown, the Age of Adaline (which I will now call Adaline for short for the remainder f this post) is a movie where a woman is involved in a single car accident at the age of 29 years old, but the circumstances of this accident cause her to stop aging. As everyone grows and ages around her, including her daughter, she remains twenty-nine. Because of this and for what she believes is her own safety, she begins to move and change identities every decade and as the movie begins, she is alone except for a dog and seems to live on the outskirts, in a way, preventing herself from having the kind of relationships and experiences that make life worth living. Her only friend is a blind woman who believes she is much older than she really is, a woman who cannot see that Adaline is an anomaly, so is the perfect friend.
And then in walks the man who changes that. Or who may cause her to change. The man that she is instantly drawn to as he is to her. The kind of connection that changes lives, that hints at destiny and soul mates and the kind of love that is everlasting.
I’m not going to say anything more than this. But I did love this film, even if I did figure out exactly how it would end within the first fifteen minutes of the film, and even if there were no surprises and everything followed the typical story arc of a romantic drama and it was rather slow moving. The dialogue was good, not amazing, and there were those moments where you could tell it was a little forced, but it was okay, because the characters were real and not over-acted or under-acted, and the world that was created was a beautiful one. At least, for me. The backdrop was San Francisco through the years, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, and they both shared a love of history. For the love interest, Ellis, history was his passion, for Adaline, history was her past. Either way, they spoke of it with such tenderness you couldn’t help but will yourself back there. At least, I couldn’t help but do so. Then again, I am one of those people that would kill for a time machine, who feels like she’s landed in the wrong century except for her extreme feminist views and love of pants (and apparently someone who refers to herself in the third person). Any movie that combines a love that can overcome all obstacles with a love of history is a winner for me (unless based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, then I will have to hold in my puke at the forced dialogue and atypical characters).
I think another reason why I loved this movie is because I am now, or feel like I am now, starting to age (Yes, I took growth and development in University, I am fully aware that I have been aging since about the age of twenty-five, but I have only just started to feel and notice it in the past couple of years) and that it will only become more and more apparent. I know there are people for whom aging is no big deal. It is a fact of life and not one that can be changed, so why fight it? And yet, I do. Partly, I think, because I am a woman, and as all the movies and stories seem to show, a woman becomes more and more obsolete as she ages. Perhaps this comes from my love of movies and the fact that women of my age are no longer portrayed as the beautiful young heroine for which life is up for grabs. They now fill rolls of mothers and older aunties or grandmothers, and women who’ve come to a crossroads in their lives and need a change after having their relationships or careers fall apart.
I’m not just making this stuff up, there is a great deal of discussing and proof of thing in Hollywood itself, nevermind our mainstream, western culture. Botox and plastic surgery is a known fact among actresses over the age of thirty (or under? I didn’t research my facts here, so just input whatever the correct number is at the moment). So many famous men who are in their forties and fifties are still given powerful roles in which they have sex appeal and, often, the young twenty-something year old girlfriend whereas women as constantly paired up with the older, grey-haired men or the spurned woman and so forth. Yes, this is starting to change for women too as more women take on producing and directing roles, but for the most part, older women are no longer the stars (except in So This is Forty. Best portrayal of growing older than I’d seen in a long time). They are the supporting characters. And I have to say, I do not want to be a supporting character.
Now, I know that is my choice in my life. I am what I see myself to be. And yes, I am only thirty-five, my life is hardly over. But I am beginning to suffer from the ravages of time. My back hurts all the time. I am almost fully grey, if not salt and pepper. The crows have stepped on the corners of my eyes and seem to want to make a home there. And I have met the love of my life and have spent the past 18 years with him. No longer will I experience the rush of a first kiss or the excitement and nervousness of a first date, the wondering if he’ll call, the first time he says I love you, the first time he sees me naked, the first, well, you get the point.
But a movie like Adaline reminds me that it’s all okay, that it’s actually more than okay. Reminds me that having someone to spend your life with is a good thing. That, yes, things change and evolve and grow over time, and even if it is a little less exciting, it is no less good. There is a security that comes with getting older that is comforting. You know what you’ve signed up for, at least for right now. Sure, the unexpected will arise and throw your life off course, but for the most part, it’s rather comforting to be able to look at your life and know where and with whom it is heading.
There is a scene at the end of the movie, the very last one, that personifies this exactly. I won’t say what it is and it’s not like it’s surprising or shocking, it’s relatively expected. Which is kind of how this movie goes. She was robbed of the typical arc of life we have all been gifted with and so she was the only one that could see what a gift it truly is. Getting older is a blessing and should be seen as such, because not everyone is given that opportunity. The “expectedness” of life is, not only what we so often take for granted, but also what can give us the most joy.
I think I’m going to change my opinion on my wrinkles and my grey hair and my aging spine. Well, maybe not my spine, my spine I will keep trying to fix. But for the rest of it, I’m going to look at it with the joy that comes from someone who is truly blessed, because those wrinkles mean I have made it farther than so many already. The more I get, the more life I have been blessed with, and it doesn’t matter if I am no longer the sexually appealing twenty-year old all over the action flicks (yeah, because that’s what I was ten years ago, I was Mary in There’s Something About Mary. In case you don’t notice, this is dripping with heavy sarcasm.), because I am that beautiful, wise (well, sometimes), loving woman in the romantic drama that can see what kind of gifts life has given her. I will leave the firsts to the young and look back on what I learned from them myself and how much more I have yet to know. Life isn’t over when you age, if anything, it truly begins, for it is with the experience of living and growing that you discover what a gift aging can be.