The Fabelmans (2022)
Spielberg’s Stunning Ode To Cinema, His Family And His Childhood Dreams
By Liselotte Vanophem
Steven Spielberg. One of the best directors of all time. Gaining worldwide fame with “Jaws” in 1975, earning multiple awards with movies such as “Saving Private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List” and directing more than fifty films, yes, saying that he changed the film industry forever would be an incredible understatement. But how did it all start for him? You will get to know that when watching “The Fabelmans”, Spielberg’s latest stunning film. While the character names are fictional, the movie feels extremely real-life thanks to the incredible performances, genuine story and moving score.
Spielberg takes you back to the moment he fell in love with the movies. His young on-screen alter-ego, Sammy (Mateo Zoryan), goes to the cinema for the very first time with his parents, Mitzi (Michelle Williams) and Burt (Paul Dano). A cinema outing that will forever change his life.
After being traumatized by the train crash in “The Greatest Show on Earth”, Sammy decides to tackle his fear by re-creating that crash with his trains and his father’s camera. Directing this first movie ignites his passion for filmmaking. A love that will only grow even more when his family moves to Phoenix, and that certainly doesn’t go unnoticed.
His mother, a pianist, knows what it’s like to be an extremely creative person and supports her teenage son (Gabriel LaBelle) 100%. However, Sammy’s father is more pragmatic and technical and sees filmmaking only as a ‘hobby’. This leads to the rising tension between Sammy and his parents, and when family secrets and struggles occur, the young filmmaker discovers that life isn’t like the movies.
When watching Sammy’s story, you immediately realise that this is Spielberg’s most personal and emotional work. On the one hand, it celebrates everything to do with filmmaking (something close to his heart); on the other hand, human relationships, struggles and emotions are the centre of this movie. Yes, together with co-writer Tony Kushner (“West Side Story”, “Lincoln”), Spielberg creates an emotional story everyone can relate to in one way or another.
Williams (“ After the Wedding”, “ Venom “) is stunning as the mother, who tries everything she can to keep her family together, but who sadly loses herself throughout the movie. Her performance is hugely versatile. Whether portraying Mitzi as the creative and graceful pianist/dancer, the concerned and loving mother, or the woman who has to deal with mental health issues and a troubled family, you can feel every emotion Mitzi is going through thanks to William’s superb acting.
Dano (“ Wildlife”, “ Okja “) is as equally as stunning as her husband. He’s extremely convincing in playing Burt, a selfish man who likes the sound of his voice too much, thinks that he knows what’s best for everyone, and denies the many issues until it’s too late. At the same time, there’s also something innocent and likeable about Burt and thanks to Dano’s balanced performance; there are even some moments you can sympathize with his character.
Despite Williams and Dano having years of experience in the acting world, they are over classed by LaBelle (“ The Predator “, “Dead Shack”). He’s a force of nature in the lead role and brings a lot of energy, vibrancy and emotions to his performance as the young Spielberg. When LaBelle is holding Sammy’s camera, giving the cast and crew directions, and explaining his passion for his project, it feels like we’ve travelled back in time to the moment Spielberg fell in love with filmmaking. The ability to make a movie is a gift that can’t be wasted, just like LaBelle’s acting. We hope to see a lot more from him in the future.
By the time you see the credits, which are accompanied by the delightful and heart-warming score from John Williams (“Schindler’s List”, “Star Wars”), your love for films and movie-making has certainly heightened even more. “The Fabelmans” is Spielberg’s stunning ode to cinema, his family, and his childhood. It’s filled with warmth and peace and raw and harsh emotions. If you don’t like a dreamy, sentimental or bittersweet movie, we suggest skipping this one. Still, if you want to watch a love letter to cinema and Oscar-worthy performances and be immersed in Spielberg’s intriguing and incredible life, then “The Fabelmans” is right up your street.
Originally published at https://www.ocmoviereviews.com.