It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Voyager" starts in mystery, and intrigues us. It continues with intelligence, and absorbs us. And then it ends in melodrama, and disappoints us - not least because characters as smart as these should be able to solve the movie's central question long before they do.
The film, set in the 1950s, stars Sam Shepard, very dry and analytical, as an engineer who stands aside from everything, as if detached from life itself. Once it was not so with him. Once he was in love. That was long ago. Now, on board an airplane, he is faced with a situation many of us have fantasized: The plane is going to crash, and he has plenty of time to think about it. He does. He does not panic, and indeed seems absorbed in all of the mechanics of the approaching disaster.
When he is spared, he seems detached from that, too. But through a coincidence he has met a man on the plane who can give him news about a friend from his past, and the news sets him off on an odyssey through strange places to find a woman he did not know was still alive, the woman he once loved. Along the way on this journey, aboard a ship, he meets a young woman (Julie Delpy), and feels an instinctive closeness to her. The feeling is returned, up to a point.
They decide to travel together through southern Europe, sharing a car, he playing the mentor role as they visit the ruins and remnants of earlier civilizations. Eventually he learns something we have been half-expecting all along, the name of the young woman's mother. She is the woman who was once his lover. Does that make the girl . . .