Charlotte Vale is a repressed spinster who has always been overpowered by her very wealthy Mother. Living in Boston, her life is about to fully change when she ends up in therapy after suffering a nervous breakdown.
I have to first mention that it was a total fluke and by chance that I came across this total gem of a film. I had left BBC Two on my TV and when I turned it back on it had different interviews with Bette Davis before this film. Mentioning that it was a romance and about a woman who was previously depressed. I thought that this sounded like it would be a very good film, I mean come Davis is outstanding all the time!
Charlotte was the youngest and only daughter therefore her mother owned her life. Making sure she did not look attractive, was overweight and pretty much well bullied her into doing exactly what she was told. Making her wear her glasses and giving her the lowest possible self-esteem. A pretty horrendous way to have to attempt to live, therefore we feel utterly sorry for Charlotte and I think that is a very important part of the character. Maybe a slight different character to that you expect from Davis, but certainly showcasing her incredible acting talent from start to finish.
When her sister-in-law Lisa Vale brings her friend Dr. Jaquith, a renowned psychiatrist (who is an incredible character I must add), to visit Charlotte, he invites her to spend some time in his sanitarium. With this Charlotte finds that she can be a very sophisticated and confident woman, which I think is an amazing message still now to girls and women that you really can be anything you want to be! Showing that we can still learn from the 1940s, I just love and adore that about film.
Whilst on a cruise of South America she meets married architect Jerry Durrance and they have a love affair, this is done in a very classy way. Maybe the whole censorship thing was great so that everything seemed to be more about love than sex, even though it would all mean the same thing. That is something I appreciate in old films though that the love and romance seems all that more pure. It kind of felt like a similar romance to that in A Brief Encounter.
Charlotte is so much a different person when she returns to Boston her family hardly recognise her, she eventually has the courage to stand up to her Mother. A man wants to marry her, but the heartbreaking thing is that she just cannot go through with it after she sees Jerry again. I thought that was pretty traumatic in terms of that she had a chance to be with someone but realised it was not real love and she could not go through with it at all. Her heart belongs to Jerry. An incredible love story as the pair had shared many incredible moments whilst on the cruise. Everything takes another swing though when by chance Charlotte ends up meeting his daughter, who everyone seems to have stopped caring about. Realising who she was made Charlotte want to take care of her, feeling closer to him.
So it’s all really heartbreaking but aren’t all of the greatest ever film love stories? I tend to think so, how many times to we really get a happily ever after? I think the most inspiring thing about this film from my point of view is that so many of the messages are still relevant now in 2017. We should appreciate classic and old films more, you never know we might just learn something new. I need to watch more of Bette Davis she is a truly incredible actress!