It was an odd weekend, mostly because we’re at home instead of at the lake—life is completely different here, in spite of the fact that I work up there just like I do down here. It’s a different vibe here in the city though, and thus, a different vibe at this house as opposed to the lake cottage. In the summer when we’re going back and forth between houses, this place almost becomes a pied-a-terre—just a place to stop by, grab the mail, and mow and then we’re back up to swimming and boating. But as fall sets in, we’re spending more time here and less time at the lake. That’s the natural order of things I think...well, it seems to be for us.
We grocery shopped on Friday, had fire in the fireplace that night, which was lovely, and spent Saturday cleaning out closets and doing fall cleaning upstairs. Right off, who knew I could clean out five closets, end up with four very large bags of clothes, shoes, purses, etc. to take to Goodwill, and still have plenty of stuff to wear this fall and winter? Something tells me that we, like most Americans, have way too much stuff. However, we are now down four bags of stuff, so that’s a start, right?
All this to say that after all the work on Saturday, we settled down to watch a movie, which is also something different about being home as opposed to being at the lake. We don’t have a television at the lake, so when we’re there, we listen to the radio or read or play games or visit with our lake buddies. That makes watching PBS or Netflix a real treat when we here at home.
Oh, the movie—sorry, I got distracted—was The Age of Adaline, a fascinating little romantic fantasy about a woman who, through a weird set of circumstances is eternally 29 years old. It starred Harrison Ford (how can you lose, right?) and an actress I didn’t know named Blake Lively. She was very good as Adaline and Michael Huisman (Game of Thrones) was romantic and handsome as Ellis, Adaline’s love interest.
The story is not particularly complicated, so I won’t give you any spoilers, but it made me think about how we writers weave a plot--especially a plot where we are asked to suspend disbelief as deeply as we had to with this one. But as I watched, I thought, what a cool story, and even though I irritated Husband by dissecting the acts and predicting what would happen next, it was still damn fine storytelling. The setup could have been really hard, but the screenwriter and director gave us all we needed to connect the dots and we followed Adaline’s unusual life and felt her pain and fear. Lively’s best scenes were with her daughter, played by Ellen Burstyn, who is always amazing. The daughter/mother dynamic between 82-year-old Burstyn and 28-year-old Lively was well-played and charming to watch.
And here’s the writerly part that got me to thinking, because it’s been a much-debated issue in Showtime’s presentation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. The Age of Adaline’s director, Lee Toland Krieger, used a voice-over narrator to tell us the story of how Adaline ended up eternally twenty-nine. The movie started with the narration and occasionally, the narration was picked up again throughout the film. So many people hate voice-over narration and honestly, I’m not crazy about it, but this story needed it because Adaline herself didn’t understand why she was different, so that wasn’t going to come out through her character. She only knew she was different, and although we saw how it happened, the why of it became clearer through the narration.
So here’s today’s big question: How do you feel about narration in films? Do voice-overs drive you crazy? Do you wish they’d just shut up and let you figure out the story or does it sometimes add to the experience? Annnnnd...discuss!