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Always Movie Review

One thing that Steven Spielberg is a master of is presenting us with the most beautiful imagery and telling a terrific story while doing so.  His 1985 film “Always” is a great example of this.  In the movie, a remake of 1944’s “A Guy Named Joe”, Pete (Richard Dreyfus), a pilot fire fighter dies in an explosion while saving his best friend, Al played by John Goodman.  He is sent back to be the guardian angle of a rookie pilot trying to become a fire fighter as well.  The catch though, is that the rookie begins to date Pete’s girlfriend Paula (Holly Hunter) and Pete can only sit by and watch and suffer.

A story like this has a great ability to bomb.  Spielberg and his cast though, make it soar.  They turn out a great movie during a time when great movies were considered a guy with one pistol taking out a fortress of henchman, making things get blowed up real good, and saying stuff like, “Merry Christmas in hell!”.

“Always” is like a breath of fresh air, especially for modern romantic movies.  It has two elements that make it so great.  The first is its spectacular use of images and photography of them.  Throughout the entire film, Spielberg lights his scenes with a beaming of blues and yellows.  It’s fascinating to watch how things are lit.  When Paula puts on her white dress dances around a dirty bar, we see a scene that’s very fluent in its movement and quite captivating.  The scene when Pete’s plane explodes is wild.  Watching him and Al fly above the fiery forest is one of the best stunts I’ve seen.  And, when Pete meets an angle (Audrey Hephurn) on a grassy match in the middle of a burnt out forest, the look of it is something out of a painting.

The second part is the dialogue and chemistry between the characters.  Spielberg’s script, co-written by Jerry Belson, takes some of the characteristics of the 1940’s film and adds it into his own version.  Though a risky move to make (especially for that time), I think it helps add to the sensation of the love story.  Romance is a played as a fantasy many times, so why not go ahead and let it be spoken as though it is one.  The chemistry of the characters is fun to watch too.  Dreyfus and Goodman are perfect as best friends as they share one liners, pranks, and goofy scenarios with one another.  Their fast paced energy in the movie is really fun to watch.  And, when Pete and Paula are together, we feel real love there.  Though Pete never says ‘I love you’ to her, we see that he does more than he can say.  The only problem though is the rookie; he lacks the magnetism the other three actors carry and acts out a part rather than a person.

Whatever.  “Always” is a terrific movie to look at.  The images are spectacular and the acting is some of the most fun you’ll have while watching the movie.  Though it runs out of steam during the middle, “Always” is something I would recommend for a Saturday night when your girlfriend wants to stay in.

***1/2 Stars

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