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The Age Of Adaline by Rob Simonsen (Review)

posted May 5, 2015, 12:56 PM by Kaya Savas

Rob Simonsen has mostly been getting noticed in the independent film circuit where he has demonstrated not only this thematic writing, but his ability to focus on and flesh out emotional arcs. His scores are always in-tune with the characters journey and that’s where the music is born. His scores for The Spectacular Now, The Way Way Back, Wish I Was Here and Foxcatcher carry his unique voice as a composer but also his ability to extract emotion with little effort. Of course Foxcatcher stands out as a different type of emotional resonance, while the others feel more related to one another. The Age Of Adaline is an exploration of mortality and love, as Adaline suffers a freak accident which freezes her aging process and essentially lets her live forever. Simonsen’s score is so in-tune with the emotional fragility of the narrative, while adding the ever so slight hint of a fairy tale romance.

The score opens with our introduction to our main protagonist, and the music really is completely from her point of view. This makes the score very intimate and easy to fall into its embrace. There is a coldness and an emptiness to the music that echoes the idea of yearning or incompleteness. When character relationships build and progress you will notice the music become much warmer and fleshed out. We can feel when Adaline is happy and we can feel when she’s scared or she’s sad. And I know that may seem obvious since it’s the job of the score to externalize the characters’ emotions, but to see it done so elegantly makes it stand out. Since the film tries to be this fantasy romance in the vein of something like Big Fish or The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, you will see the music fall into some of those slow lumbering romantic swells. Those moments do provide some much needed flourishes, but not enough to elevate the score into something more commanding. We sort of keep circling this state of fragile yearning, that when those boisterous orchestral flourishes do come they feel sudden. There are beautiful moments in this score, but the flow from introspective character drama to romantic fantasy takes some missteps in crafting an emotional current that truly starts at the beginning and climaxes in the final act.

The Age Of Adaline is a score that is wonderfully executed and is beautiful at times. It’s in the narrative build that it loses some of the momentum that is needed to make the impact of the final act stick. The score works best as an internal exploration of a woman who is in conflict with her state of immortality, and not so much as a sweeping romantic fantasy. But in the journey there is much to admire, including the great Rob Simonsen getting to explore new areas musically. He proves to have the talents and uniqueness of other composers I see him similar to such as James Newton Howard and Alexandre Desplat. And he shows glimmers of greatness here for sure, he just needed a better canvass to structure around.