After he sees a number of UFOs during a blackout, family man Roy Neary becomes obsessed with finding them again…
Seen before? Yes.
Best performance: Richard Dreyfuss (Roy) is energetic, passionate and likeable (a neat trick seeing how he essentially plays a loony who abandons his family). He’s had a shave since Jaws.
Best scene/moment/sequence: Roy’s first nighttime encounter with a UFO is superb. I love the moment where what you assume are a car’s headlights slowly lift up above him.
Review: Lots of Spielberg firsts here. His trademark sense of wonder, his fascination with science fiction, and his love of kooky lower-middle-class families all get explored. It’s also his first movie to go full-throttle on the use of expressionistic lighting, colour, smoke and shadow to help tell his story. Many shots are *beautifully* composed. And while Richard Dreyfuss is going slightly mad and worrying his family, François Truffaut and Bob Balaban are trotting round the globe investigating strange goings-on in scenes set in stunning locations and featuring hundreds of well-marshalled extras (an area Spielberg has always excelled). I like this film, rather than love it. It’s very impressive but I can’t say it’s ever gripped me.
Eight mountains made from mashed potato out of 10.