• “Before I Sleep”
  • “The Haunting of Hill House”
  • “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”
  • “A Long Way Down”
  • “The Westing Game”

Just a few titles I would add to a list of books poorly translated into films. Every reader has a similar list.

But recently, I started a new list. “Movies I want desperately to be turned into a book.” This movie felt like an amazing novel that had been somewhat decently adapted for screen but had been forced to leave intricate back stories and secondary characters on the cutting room floor.

That movie is “The Age of Adaline.”ageOfAdaline

Adaline begins her life like anyone else, born at the turn of the century, marrying, and starting a family. But then she is involved in an accident after which she stops aging, staying forever 29.

In order to shake suspicion, she moves frequently. The movie focuses on what happens as she’s about to transition from one identity to the next. She’s stayed in touch with very few people along the way, opting instead for canine companionship. Her life becomes complicated when a persistent (and good-looking) man won’t take no for an answer and she has to decide if she wants to keep living as she has or risk the unhappiness a relationship may bring knowing he will age and she will not.

The movie isn’t perfect but I enjoyed it very much. Blake Lively as Adaline is subtle and classy — her grace and maturity fit the old soul of the character well. A relative newcomer to American cinema, Michiel Huisman was convincing as Ellis — assertive in his pursuit, confused by her mixed signals, both tender and funny. Harrison Ford was also compelling with the little he had to work with.

The main faults with the movie were writing faults. Reactions that didn’t make sense. Actions not explained. Characters that seemed out of place. Usually when I see these in a movie, it’s because the movie has been condensed from a novel and they can’t fit it all in but it was too important to leave it out.

Which is what left me longing for a full-length novelization of “The Age of Adaline.” I want to read more about how it affected her to see everyone from her first, natural life grow old and die, even those she shouldn’t have outlived. How it felt to realize what was happening but not understand why. How she felt about the changes in the world around her, the breadth of knowledge she had managed to accumulate, both in book smarts and street smarts (this is only briefly alluded to in the movie). How does it feel to make those identity transitions and leave people behind? What about her relationship with her daughter?

Two hours on the screen wasn’t enough for Adaline’s story. I would love to read the book. That’s the first time I remember feeling that way about a movie.

Still, I recommend the movie. At least I didn’t spend the whole two hours telling Mike how they were doing it all wrong compared to the book version!

What about you? Have you ever seen a movie and then wished after for a book to give you more of the story? I don’t necessarily mean a sequel (though those are nice as well) but it’s the difference we all complain about when a movie only scratches the surface of our favorite books — I want the full story of Adaline and I feel like I somehow missed out.

 

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