Now, Voyager Reviews
The film scores points for me for having its title come from a Walt Whitman line in 'Leaves of Grass': "The untold want by life and land ne'er granted; Now, Voyager sail thou forth, to seek and find," which is appropriate. The film speaks to being honest with oneself, to one's identity, as well as to the person you love, even if it's complicated. I loved the little touches of the inner voice that director Irving Rapper employs, which helps underscore this.
It's heartwarming to see how those in love make each other better people. She begins to bloom, and radiate confidence after receiving simple acts of kindness and appreciation. He returns to his passion, architecture, and is more empathetic and understanding of his troubled daughter. The scene where they meet by chance again at a party, and have a conversation interlaced with whispered remarks of tenderness (such as her saying to him she could "cry with pride" over him following his dream) is lovely.
At the same time, she's not defined by him, or dependent on him. In fact, the movie is a celebration of independence, and shows how it can be done gracefully and with class. Her strength come through in so many ways: in standing up to her mother, determining her path with another suitor, asserting herself with her old doctor, and ultimately deciding the terms she'll have her relationship with Henreid on. While she admits that "I've just been a big sentimental fool. It's a tendency I have," she also calmly says "Please let me go" when a big romantic moment threatens to sweep her away.
The story about his child was touching, as we see Davis help her, as she was once helped, but I thought this part dragged on too long, and needed tightening up. It felt overly melodramatic and false; for one thing, where was the mother? There was a much earlier scene with a Brazilian taxi driver that got silly, and should have been left on the cutting room floor as well. On the other hand, I loved those last lines. He asks her, "And will you be happy, Charlotte?" And she responds "Oh Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars." How brilliant that line is; there is something larger than ourselves, larger than what others consider happiness.
Oh, and smoking like a docker too!
From a modern perspective, the concept of an unqualified ex-crazy offered a nurse job by her psychiatrist to care for, take camping, and kidnap the current-crazy child of her unrequited lover (whom she wants to 'always have piece of close') raises a few eyebrows. It sounds ripe for horror. Or at least a horror parody. But amidst World War Two, this sort of breezy I-love-you-so-much escapism was considered the epitome of All-American romance.
Now, Voyager is laden with some sweet edits, fades and visual metaphors, but the screenplay is somewhat soggy and unfocused, let alone troublesome to take seriously. Everyone mumbles their way through deliberate dialogue in a is-it-or-isn't-it British-Tinseltown accent, but Davis' pedantic performance somehow rises above her material. It's a shame the same can't be said for assertive-eyed Paul Henreid and his double cigarettes.
Davis' ugly duckling, Charlotte Vale, is a killer role, and the star has real fun with it. If you do go watch Now, Voyager, go watch it for her.
"Now, Voyager" is essentially a movie-length soap opera. Has all the ingredients: over-stated melodrama, complex relationships, high society and their weird mores, idyllic settings, forbidden romances and a nagging, fascist mother. From the outset the movie just feels stuffy, and superficial.
Good production though, despite the dialogue feeling so much like a play. Max Steiner won an Oscar for his musical score.
The acting goes with the play/soap opera feel: over-stated emotions, exaggerated portrayals.
95% on the Ricta Scale