Sunday, February 12, 2017

Now, Voyager (1942)

IMDb plot summary: A frumpy spinster blossoms under therapy and becomes an elegant, independent woman.
Directed by Irving Rapper. Starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, and Gladys Cooper.

(Spoilers ahead.)

This is a fascinating movie. It seldom went the way I expected it to. I've never been sold on Bette Davis as an actress -- she's always seemed to fall too easily into the campy self-parody she became in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? -- but here she's excellent as a woman working to reclaim her sense of identity after a lifetime of parental abuse. Charlotte is a wonderful character, and seeing her take her first steps into the adult world and blossom is very satisfying. I love that the central concern of the story *is* her reclaiming her independence, and not just through finding a man to love her. The romance is a side effect of the real emotional work being done here, and that's why even when it ends with our lead characters not getting together, it's still a positive ending in my book. Charlotte may still be undoing bits of her mother's damage throughout her life, but she is confidently reclaiming herself, making her own decisions and taking care of others in a way she never got to do when she was just her mother's slave. While the film has a few moments that veer very closely toward melodramatic overacting, overall it drew me into its story so completely that I'd happily sit here discussing the characters and their reactions for another hour without even really touching on the technical aspects of the film.

4.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Now, Voyager > Chasing Amy
Now, Voyager > Men in Black III
Now, Voyager > A Man for All Seasons
Now, Voyager < Equus
Now, Voyager < Pirate Radio
Now, Voyager < Better Off Dead
Now, Voyager < Guardians of the Galaxy
Now, Voyager < Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Now, Voyager > Breakfast at Tiffany's
Now, Voyager < High School Musical

Final spot: #316 out of 2575.

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