Always is a very nice film. Steven Spielbergs images have an ability to stand still and grab. There is a wonderfully dreamy shot, connected to nothing at all, that opens the film, with a plane hazily swimming down out of the air, heading for two old-timers fishing on a lake, which at the last moment equally dreamily heads back up into the air yards before the collision a sequence told all in images and wide-angle, no sounds. There are other haunting sequences Brad Harriss encounter with old-timer Roberts Blossom who starts reading Richard Dreyfusss voice like a half-tuned radio, or Dreyfuss watching the momentary emergence of the spirit of a bus driver undergoing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a roadside before he is revived. The climax is effective, albeit melodramatic, decidedly reminiscent of Spielbergs pal George Lucass Star Wars (1977) climax with Richard Dreyfuss instead of ghostly Alec Guinness guiding Holly Hunter instead of Mark Hamill on a bombing run.
The one area the film oddly fails to stand up in is the romance. Steven Spielberg has a mastery of childhood sentiment but is often awkward when it comes to adult emotions. The romance is delivered in several chunky monologues, which slow the film down. Richard Dreyfuss seems toned down from his usual bubbly spill of boyish enthusiasms. In films like Broadcast News (1987) and Raising Arizona (1987) where she caught world attention, Holly Hunter was cast a strutting, five-foot nothing powerhouse of feisty determination who did not so much grab attention as get in ones face and stay there until she got it but here she is toned down too and she and Richard Dreyfuss fail to establish any screen chemistry in their initial scenes. The second romance with stolid hunk Brad Johnson is no better. The best performance in the film comes from John Goodman, boisterous, energetic, dancing like an animated Disney hippo and with a limitless capacity for impersonations and yet able to turn serious at a moments notice he is like John Belushi played as a human being.
Always is not a film that fails indeed, it is often a strangely affecting one but it is affecting for all the wrong reasons. Spielberg should have made one feel about the romance, but he never does, and it is only the magic that comes in his images of the supernatural that one remembers instead.
Steven Spielbergs other genre films are: Duel (1971), Jaws (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Twilight Zone The Movie (1983), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Hook (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), A.I. (2001), Minority Report (2002), War of the Worlds (2005), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), The Adventures of Tintin (2011) and The BFG (2016).