Death has many faces..Sometimes
Written By: Bidisha Chowdhury
Directed By: Bidisha Chowdhury
Let me just start by writing that as an indie film, "Adaline" looks fantastic. As a thriller with a supernatural twist, imagery is a huge component and when used correctly easily makes or breaks any production. It seems as if writer / director Bidisha Chowdhury was banking on the visual elements, and in a sense they paid off. To drop in on "Adaline" one would never guess it an indie production. At first anyhow.
The concept here is interesting enough going into the movie, but very quickly the cliché of the film begins to compound until not a trace of originality remains. Does that make an uninteresting film? Not at all. Most movies rely on cliché to give that sense of familiarity, like having an old friend for dinner; but in order for things to really work the components must progress and flow a certain way. In that respect, "Adaline" is a very mixed bag indeed.
Let's begin with the lensing of the film. In the sea of camcorder and iPhone images that make up a lot of current indie films, "Adaline" was a breath of fresh air. The cinematography looks great! Comparable to many studio productions that in fact, have a really large budget. That's not saying it's perfect, and does contain a few more "shaky" styled shots than I personally cared for, but even they looked great. A care was given when composing the shots that became "Adaline", and it shines through loud and clear. Complimenting the camera work was a good edit and some excellent sound. To be honest, the production and post production of the film itself just comes across as top notch, through-and-through.
Where "Adaline" fails a bit is in the scenes and situations themselves. Some of the writing just made things a little weird. For example: You have a carpenter you just met. You hire this carpenter. You decide to make a run to the store (leaving a virtual stranger in your house) and when you leave, the carpenter strips down to nothing but jeans and begins his work... in a virtual strangers house... with tools, almost completely naked! I mean... C'mon now! Who would do that in a newly met "clients" house? "Adaline" is full of little things like this that just remind you that you're watching a fiction. If some of these situations were thought through a little, "Adaline" would have been a much, much better film.
I should also touch on the narrative itself. This is a slow film. If I were to guess, I would say that "Adaline" relies on the atmosphere created from the camera work to push the movie forward. Yes it works, to a point. The biggest problem is that the slow (very slow) build never pays off. As a matter of fact, the ending felt rushed and scripted. Even the acting, during the last segment felt completely hollow; in contrast to a decent job through the rest of the film. Everything about the ending was just strange and 1980s cliché. Back to the acting itself, as I wrote above, save the ending it was all pretty convincing. A special mention should go to Marvin (Jeremy Walker) who did a fantastic job. It's a shame that his character had no real purpose in the film, except to be a lovable character. When writing, if a character doesn't add anything to the story that isn't already in place... don't write them. Still, a great performance is a great performance, and it really did add to the film. Except another idiot moment with him, Marvin, looking for treasure after dark with a shovel and metal detector. Who does that? In the dark I mean? Why couldn't he have been doing something else? Or maybe the "lost my binoculars" scene would have fit better, instead of digging for treasure at night. Anyhow...
In the end, "Adaline" is still an above average film. One that is both easy to watch and easy to see. Visually, as I keep writing, it looks great! To show, this movie should make all involved very proud. My only concerns were actually quite mild and nit-picky, except the ending, which I didn't like. Easily however, this is still a title I would be more than happy to purchase and add to my movie shelf. It does entertain and does look great. If more indie filmmakers took a few notes from Bidisha Chowdhury we would have a huge surge in the indie scene. "Adaline" may not be perfect... but what ever is?
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