The Love Arts Weepie is … NOW, VOYAGER.
You voted, we listened. The Love Arts Weepie was chosen by a public vote. And the winner was Now, Voyager. So get your tissues at the ready and join us at the Hyde Park Picture House on Sunday afternoon!
To mark this momentous expression of democracy, our patron Rob Young has written the following:
This is a wonderful film from the days when movie stars had names like Gladys and Mary. Whenever a character enters the room, there’s a huge swell of strings from the orchestra and every house is a mansion. Lovers call each other, “Dearest Darling” and the diction is so sharp, you could shave with it. This film has everything you want from a black and white movie, except cocoa and a duvet.
It tells the story of Charlotte (Bette Davis) who has low self-esteem and eyebrows that look like caterpillars. She is bullied by her horrid mother who has made her depressed. Who wouldn’t be? A kind psychiatrist whisks her away to convalescence in a home so huge that you could fit an entire NHS hospital into its grounds. It’s like a posh health spa. Charlotte’s depression soon shrinks and so do her eyebrows. She even gets to go on a cruise where she falls in love in the moonlight, a service that is currently unavailable on the NHS.
So far, so cheesy, but the wonderful thing about this film is that Charlotte’s depression is seen in context. It investigates her life as a whole, not just the condition. If such a film were made today it would concentrate on the issue and not the woman it relates to. Just as the wonderfully named psychiatrist, Jeremiah Duvaux Durrance, discovers, it is the broader landscape of Charlotte’s world that is the primary cause of her chronic low self-esteem.
With love, care and a well-written backstory, Charlotte is transformed from a shy woman who thinks that she’s fat into… Bette Davis! The caterpillars hatch into butterflies and if you ended the film there, it’d be happy. But let’s not forget, this is a Bette Davis film! Those brooding strings are like a tidal wave coming towards us, telling of heartbreak and doom. But, darling dearest, do not despair. Our heroine has a good heart, which is more than can be said for her mother, as hers gives out midway. Charlotte is left to control her own destiny which she does with grace and elegance.
In modern movies, the man and woman have a few fights, are rude (often) then as we all knew from the start, get together in the end. But not Bette! Her journey is more complicated, intelligent and profound. She must navigate her way through tyrants, mental health issues and a love that cannot be. She must save a child and by doing so, breaking the cycle of violence. The tragedy is, she heals her head but breaks her heart in the process. But hey, it’s a movie, that’s what we want, to cry and appreciate life.
Ultimately, this is a story about a woman who doesn’t let her mental health issue restrict her ambition. She starts off as a hermit and by the end of the film, she’s travelled the world, fallen in love, wore some really cool sunglasses and used her own experience of depression to help others heal. Who wouldn’t cheer for that? So bring a friend and a tissue and settle in for the best depression movie ever and the weird thing is, it’s not depressing at all. Now where can I sign up for that spa?