What The Age of Adaline Means for Millennials

{By Lana Jackson}

“For all those years you’ve lived, you’ve never had a life.”

What is the measure of a life? Most would answer time, time measures our lives.

The times we’ve had with loved ones, the time we spent building a career, the time we dedicated to great causes, the time we wasted, the times we forgot, the time we saved. And of course, there are times we regret for the roads not taken.

Time.

Time is a strange thing. It elapses, and no one notices; or we run out of it, and we’re thrown into a state of panic.

But not Adaline Bowman, she has nothing but time on her hands . . .

Born in 1908, a freak accident causes Adaline to stop aging at 29. This freak accident causes a scientific chain reaction in her anatomy that, the narrator informs us, won’t be discovered by scientists until the year 2035. It’s a feat of screenwriting gymnastics that should be awarded straight 10s. As such, this very proper, conservatively dressed woman changes her identity every decade, cutting off almost all ties.[i]

And so, Adaline’s life is measured not by the depth of relationships or her contribution to the world, but by lonely days spent hiding from life and love. For all those years she lived, Adaline never really had a life.

age of adeline christian movie review

Vividly stunning cinematography serves to intensify Blake Lively’s stellar performance. Lively does an incredible job of endearing this character to the audience, as she portrays Adaline as a beautifully sad, yet delicately strong woman who never asked for eternal youth. Adaline’s strength is not a physical one or an intellectual one, but she exudes a heart-strength, a perseverance that has been born through affliction. She is burdened with the curse of endless time, but she bears her burden beautifully.

One of the most amazing things about this film is that it gives an honest appraisal of the necessity of aging.

So many Hollywood films of the past like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Tuck Everlasting make immortality or everlasting youth a desirable aspiration. But The Age of Adaline shows us the danger of eternal youth right from the start.

Our culture sells us the idea that aging can be avoided through diet trends, countless beauty products, gym advertisements, or even technology. Not that any of those things are wrong in and of themselves, but perhaps, as demonstrated in this movie, aging is an indication of something much deeper. Our issue is not with aging itself, it’s with time. As time moves forward, we age. As we age, we lose time.

But we need to age, we need to get older, we need to feel that life is precious and life has meaning because time is passing. Without the passing of time or growing old, life would feel cyclical, depressing and unending like a hamster on a treadmill. Even Adaline remarks in the film that love is “not the same when there’s no growing old together,” and that “without that, love is just heartbreak.” Without spoiling the film, Adaline makes the realization that something has to change and the idea of a solitary gray hair becomes an immense sense of comfort to her.

But do we take comfort in aging? Could we see our loss of time on this earth as something gained in an afterlife with a Sovereign Creator for whom time has no limits?

A.W. Tozer said in his famous book “The Knowledge of the Holy,” that

“We who live in this nervous age would be wise to meditate on our lives and our days long and often before the face of God and on the edge of eternity. For we are made for eternity as certainly as we are made for time, and as responsible moral beings we must deal with both.

“He hath set eternity in their heart,” said the Preacher, and I think he here sets forth both the glory and the misery of men. To be made for eternity and forced to dwell in time is for mankind a tragedy of huge proportions. All within us cries for life and permanence, and everything around us reminds us of mortality and change. Yet that God has made us of the stuff of eternity is both a glory and a prophecy, a glory yet to be realized and a prophecy yet to be fulfilled.

I hope it will not be found unduly repetitious if I return again to that important pillar of Christian theology, the image of God in man. The marks of the divine image have been so obscured by sin that they are not easy to identify, but is it not reasonable to believe that one mark may be man’s insatiable craving for immortality?” [ii]

The great encouragement of this film is that though our bodies are dying and reveal the effect of time, inside the Holy Spirit is renewing us and making our souls fit for an eternity spent with God. An eternity spent in perfection—not in our brokenness, as Adaline is forced to spend her days. To spend eternity in your brokenness would be to live on this earth forever, as it is, with no hope of renewal . . . what could be more tragic?

It is for this reason that God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden—not because He was cruel, but to save them from making their mistake permanent.

To save us from making our brokenness permanent. God sent us out of the Garden and into time.

God sent us into a world where we could encounter our Redeemer so that we can be made whole and be returned to our forever home—not just ageless, but blameless.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Check out Film + Theology to see other reviews of current movies from a Christian perspective. 

Sources:

[i] Hoffman, J. (2015, April 22). The Age of Adaline review – Blake Lively brings out the best in Harrison Ford. Retrieved from The Guardian:http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/apr/22/age-of-adaline-review-blake-lively-harrison-ford

[ii] Tozer, A. (1978). The Knowledge of the Holy. New York: HarperCollins.

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