Adaline (2015) **
D: Bidisha Chowdhury
C: Jill Evyn, Lane Townsend, Emily Claeys, Jeremy Walker, Sergio Alejandro, Pamela Finney, C.S. Boris, Anne Hallinan
Plot Synopsis: Adaline's terrifying visions bleed through from the past and become Daniela's present-day nightmares.
Review: In Adaline, a starving artist finds that she's inherited her aunt's house. Upon settling in, she discovers that her new home has a grisly past, a past that might repeat itself through supernatural occurrences. What Adaline gets right is that it establishes an atmosphere of unease & menace without resorting to the usual cliches such as photographing the house in a forbidding manner or having the locals act like crazy psychopaths.
So, it's surprising to see how it trips up in some of the simple details. There's a developmentally challenged character. He's outfitted in thick, black glasses and a hat that looks more appropriate on a young kid. It's a heavy handed approach to establish that the character is developmentally challenged. Or, in another instance, the character of Adaline is donned in a black wig (or maybe that's their own hair?) that is styled in an exaggerated way to show that Adaline is aloof. The presentation of Adaline and the developmentally challenged character clash against the overall look of the film.
Whenever something bad is about to happen, an over bearing music score ques the audience into knowing something bad is about to happen. There's a sex scene. While it's a steamy scene, it feels protracted and thus comes across as gratuitous. There's a scene in which the main character reads from a diary complete with a flashback. During this flashback, characters are donned in clothing reflecting the early 1900's. These costumes are (for lack of a better word) too costumey. This cheapens the production as a whole. This scene would've been far more effective without the flashback with the focus shifted to the main character reading from the diary.
Then there's the actual story itself. They take a mystery like approach. This gives the proceedings an engaging quality. However, there's a variety of plot holes, inconsistencies & questions left unanswered, especially during the finale. One of the biggest questions that looms is if Adaline and her sisters died without having children, then how did their bloodline continue? Hence, how is Adaline related to the main character? They try to explain this during the finale, but it leads to more questions then answers.
All of what I'm describing can be frustrating from a viewer standpoint, but what holds this together, despite all the rips at the seams, is Jill Evyn. She has a striking on camera presence and an unforced acting manner. If only her performance was in service of a better film.
Making a movie with supernatural undertones is a delicate thing. Usually, they require restraint and a careful editing eye, because this type material works better with a more ambiguous approach vs a literal one. Adaline is a cross between the two in that over conceptualizes certain things and under plays others to the point that nothing quite meshes. [Not Rated] 97 minutes.
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