A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) is the repressed and depressed daughter of an imperious mother (Gladys Cooper). Miserable and insecure, she begins seeing psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains). At his sanitarium she develops some self worth, and takes a cruise before returning home. On the ship, she meets Jerry (Paul Henreid), begins to bloom under his attention, and they fall in love. But Jerry is married and can't consider divorce. They say goodbye, and Charlotte returns home to her controlling mother. Charlotte meets Elliott (John Loder), a kind businessman, who wants to marry her, and her mother approves. But when she sees Jerry again, she turns Elliott down. This so infuriates her mother that she has a heart attack and dies. Overcome with guilt, Charlotte returns to Dr. Jaquith. But at the sanitarium, she meets a troubled young girl, Tina, Jerry's daughter. In reaching out to Tina, she strength and sense of purpose. When Charlotte goes home, Tina moves in with her. Jerry at first wants to take Tina away, thinking it is too much of an imposition, but Charlotte persuades him that it is a way for them to be close.
Is it any good?
NOW, VOYAGER has a lot of appeal for highly romantic teenagers of both sexes, and for those who are interested in the dynamics and impact of dysfunctional families. Charlotte's mother is completely self-obsessed, consumed with power, incapable of compassion, much less love, for her daughter, but it is also clear that there is no way for Charlotte to be successful in pleasing her mother. In the end, Charlotte's independence and self-respect are much more threatening to her mother, who literally cannot survive Charlotte's assertion of her right to her own life.
The title of the movie is from a line by Walt Whitman that Dr. Jaquith gives to Charlotte: "Now voyager, sail forth to seek and find." Charlotte learns not to be afraid of what she will find, to risk getting hurt, to risk allowing herself to be known, to risk caring about someone else. It is also worthwhile for kids to see that Charlotte must love herself before she is able to love someone else, and that just as Jerry's love helps her to bloom, she is able to do the same for Tina.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Charlotte had such a hard time feeling good about herself. Why did Jerry and Charlotte decide not to see each other any more? Why did seeing Jerry make Charlotte change her mind about marrying Elliott? What did Charlotte's mother want from Charlotte? Was that fair? What should Charlotte have said to her mother? Why did helping Tina make Charlotte feel better?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love romance
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch