Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Best Movie I Saw "Last Week": Now, Voyager

Between a weekend trip and a serious case of Friends addiction, this has been a very light week and a half. Still, we managed to watch a few Best Actress Nominees and it is one of these films the one that has the honor of being film of the week. Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, 1942) is a wonderful Bette Davis melodrama.

Davis plays Charlotte Vale, the black sheep in a very important family. She is meek and ugly and is therefore single and without prospects of marriage. Thanks to her sister-in-law she leaves her mother to go to a resting house and there she blooms. She begins to be social, to dress amazingly and to be generally not ugly. I find Bette Davis to be a beautiful woman but the make up and wardrobe people might not have been that sure because the really piled on her frumping her up. It's one of those makeovers where it is impossible not to improve. Really, when the movie begins, she looks like this:

I guess the transformation is all the more striking because of Davis' acting. She, the actress that had been Leslie Crosbie, the actress who would be Margo Channing, is completely believable as a woman suffocating under her mother and once Charlotte is out of her shell, she plays her with a warmth and empathy that never quite lets you forget how she began the story. What I really like about the script is how it manages to handle both the triumphs and the disappointments. I would say the film has an optimistic outlook but still, by the time Davis delivers the last line in the film ("We have the stars, let's don't ask for the moon") I was crying my eyes out.

In the technical aspects, it is a very elegant film in which the camera is as in love with Charlotte as we are. The costumes are amazing and the music is so beautiful. The score was nominated but not the costumes (I'm sure that this is only because the award did not exist yet) and it managed a Supporting Actress nod for Gladys Cooper (playing Charlotte's tyranical mother) apart from Davis' nomination.

Other films I wacthed this week:

The Member of the Wedding (Fred Zinnemann, 1952)
The Song of Bernadette (Henry King, 1943)
The Yearling (Clarence Brown, 1946)
The Two Faces of January (Hossein Amini, 2014)
Gentleman's Agreement (Elia Kazan, 1947)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013) [Rewatch]
Byzantium (Neil Jordan, 2013)

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