Always (Widescreen Edition) [VHS]

Steven Spielberg
Considered by many to represent a low point in Steven Spielberg's career, 1990's Always did suggest something of a temporary drift in the director's sensibility. A remake of the classic Spencer Tracy film A Guy Named Joe, Always stars Richard Dreyfuss as a Forest Service pilot who takes great risks with his own life to douse wildfires from a plane. After promising his frightened fiancée (Holly Hunter) to keep his feet on the ground and go into teaching, Dreyfuss's character is killed during one last flight. But his spirit wanders restlessly, hopelessly attached to and possessive of Hunter, who can't see or hear him. Then the real conflict begins: a trainee pilot (Brad Johnson), a likable doofus, begins wooing a not-unappreciative Hunter--and it becomes Dreyfuss's heavenly mandate to accept, and even assist in, their budding romance. The trouble with the film is a certain airlessness, a hyper-inventiveness in every scene and sequence that screams of Spielberg's self-education in Hollywood classicism. Unlike the masters he is constantly quoting and emulating in Always, he forgets to back off and let the movie breathe on its own sometimes, which would better serve his clockwork orchestration of suspense and comedy elsewhere. Still, there are lovely passages in this film, such as the unforgettable look on Dreyfuss's face a half-second before fate claims him. John Goodman contributes good supporting work, and Audrey Hepburn makes her final screen appearance as an angel. --Tom Keogh

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