Friday, November 16, 2007

A classic film

Ah, where has all the romance gone? Modern movies about relationships seem to fall into the categories of schmaltzy (While You Were Sleeping) or harsh (Closer). If you want a truly romantic movie, then I suggest a classic tear-jerker that's just been put on our shelves: Now, Voyager. This fabulous film stars Bette Davis, a fabulous actress, and Paul Henreid, who is best known for playing Victor Laslo in Casablanca.
On paper, the story line sounds terrible: Davis is a repressed spinster dominated by her mother. She seeks help from a kindly psychiatrist (Claude Rains, another Casablanca alum) and emerges a new woman - one of the first 'makeover' films. She goes on a cruise and falls in love with an unhappily married Henreid. [This was back when ocean cruises were the height of luxury and sophistication, rather than being all about the food buffet]. Their paths continue to cross, and their love never dies, but there is no happy ending here. What saves this plot from being a sappy mess is the stellar acting of Davis, Henreid and Rains. Davis emerges as a strong, sympathetic character who channels her love into helping Henreid's disturbed daughter. Henreid's performance is also wonderful. And when Henreid lights two cigarettes at once, and offers one to Davis, you will see just how much modern romance flicks miss the mark.

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