Now, Voyager - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Now, Voyager Reviews

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July 1, 2018
One of Bette Davis finest performances. A must see for her fans. This is a classic butter sweet romance from the 1940's best.
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
March 30, 2018
This film tugs on a few different heartstrings, with themes of a domineering mother, being an awkward, depressed young person, finding a deep connection and love with someone who can't be yours, and then personally evolving to the point of being able to transcend all of that, and finding one's path. It's really quite a touching film, and Bette Davis turns in another brilliant performance. The supporting cast around her is strong as well, and features Gladys Cooper (her mother), Paul Henreid (her lover), Claude Rains (her wise doctor). And, how fascinating is it that both Henreid and Rains began filming Casalanca immediately afterwards; clearly a great year for them.

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.
½ February 2, 2018
Nearly conventional setup (given the domineering mother premise), this ugly ducking tale could have gone several directions in the final 40 minutes. The path chosen could set up a sequel that's equally psychotic. An excellent film on all levels.
January 15, 2018
Psychological drama. Groundbreaking. 1001 movies to see before you die.
June 11, 2017
Loving this for the reason it's Bette doing what she does best! Being "Divine" darling! Divine!
Oh, and smoking like a docker too!
May 4, 2017
Cheesy film from the 1940s. I couldn't get into it. (First and only viewing - 11/22/2014)
April 21, 2017
This story of a backward mother-controlled spinster who is transformed by love was unforgettable when I first saw it. Davis and Henreid are so divine on screen together, the chemistry between them seems so real, that this is one of the few movies where I forgive the cigarettes being used as a sexy prop. Claude Rains and Gladys Cooper are excellent as always. The only person who is hard to watch is the actress who plays Henreid's daughter.
March 7, 2017
There's a lot of cheese here, but it's romantic and overall, a very good film. Plus, this is classic Bette Davis; one of her best!
½ January 22, 2017
Bette Davis giving hope to all the glasses wearing, spinsters around the world
½ November 8, 2016
Now, Voyager is a film that takes place over an indeterminate amount of time as we meet a damaged young woman who goes through therapy and becomes much stronger and more independent. She then falls in love and has to deal with the difficulty of loving a man who she can never be with. This is a tour de force from Bette Davis who displays such remarkable depth and range in the character of Charlotte Vale. Also notable is the brilliant Claude Rains who adds so much to the character of therapist Dr. Jaquith in a limited number of scenes. I have a hard time with films that focus heavily on affair-based romances, particularly when they will not be leaving their spouses, and that's what happens in this movie. However, they utilize that as a plot point and actually make a brilliant 3rd act turn that I didn't see coming. It might be one of the most romantic endings without being romantic at all, which will make sense if you see the film. I didn't love the passage of time in Now, Voyager because they would jump a lot and it was kind of disorienting for me. I wish they had put a note on the screen indicating how long it has been since the last scene, in order to instantly get me in the right frame of mind for the next scene. Also there are parts of the film that drag, and in a modern romance they would have trimmed down some of that stuff. Despite some flaws I still think Now, Voyager is a very good film and one I'd gladly watch again sometime.
September 17, 2016
The title comes from a Walt Whitman poem about unfulfilled desires -- and Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) has them. She's been held back (all the way into her thirties) by her domineering mother, so much so that she plays the first scenes of the movie in ugly drag (with unruly eyebrows) on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Fortunately, Charlotte's sister-in-law brings sensible psychologist Dr Jacquith (Claude Rains) into the picture and he rightly identifies, as Carl Rogers might later deduce, that internalizing her mother's expectations for her is the crux of the problem. So, he proposes that she escape away on a South American cruise - where, transformed miraculously into the Bette Davis we know, she meets and falls in love with, an unfortunately married man played by Paul Henreid. I wonder why the most emotionally stirring films are always about those impossible loves that are never to be, never fulfilled (although there are some innuendoes here about a stormy night in Rio), never ending in a life-long pairing. Is it because these possible futures remain in the land of "what might be" keeping expectations and dreams high, even when all loves that do result in relationships must crash down to reality and become an everyday, if not humdrum, thing? Thus the sad dreams continue, unchecked by life. Charlotte manages to sublimate her longing for Jerry (Henreid) into a mothering instinct, taking over guardianship of his younger daughter for whom her own mother seems to hold no interest. An unusual arrangement to be sure, and probably one that would not, could not, exist today. So, Davis takes it on the chin, as she does in so many movies, but she comes through tougher than before. With its sweeping Max Steiner score and numerous touching and portentous moments, Now, Voyager, ends up being inspiring to those who want to take control of their own lives and navigate to the points beyond where they might currently be stuck. Onward!
June 28, 2016
The sentiment is noble and there are big ideas in this film, but it's hard to say that it aged well. Now, Voyager didn't portray the way people went about life and love then and it certainly doesn't do it now. Love Affair (i.e.), done a few years early, is a better melodrama. Still, Rapper's work is often intriguing and Davis and Henreid's relationship is undoubtedly to die for.
June 27, 2016
Charlotte and Jerry are soul mates that can't be together. It's so heartbreaking.
½ November 26, 2015
"Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find . . ." A romantic film with a lovely message about finding yourself and freeing yourself from other people's expectations. Includes the famous double-cigarette trick and the iconic "don't let's ask for the moon" quote, and features both a de-glammed and glamorous Bette Davis (really, who doesn't love a good movie makeover?). Funnily enough, thick eyebrows and large-framed glasses are quite in-vogue now, but somehow the transformation doesn't lose any of its power. I do have a few qualms about equating "ugliness" with mental unwellness, but all the same it's a classic and a sheer pleasure to watch.
October 2, 2015
Bette Davis sports caterpillar eyebrows and dodgy dresses in Casey Robinson's caricature-friendly Now, Voyager; a film frankly far weaker than it's stars and sentiments.
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.
September 17, 2015
Love! Seen this numerous times, and love it more after each time I watch.
½ August 4, 2015
A strong romance, but mainly stands out for Better Davis's performance.
½ May 10, 2015
Well-made but dull.

"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.
½ March 21, 2015
Outstanding old movie with Betty Davis at her best seen on TCM Verizon 230

95% on the Ricta Scale
January 23, 2015
Perfect and Spot on ...
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