‘The Fabelmans’ Combines The Passion of Filmmaking With Family Drama In An Intriguing - But Semi Messy - Way.
By Sal LoCicero | December 3, 2022
Steven Spielberg is one of the most common names that are mentioned in the film industry. His filmography goes all the way back to the year 1971, with ABC’s original movie ‘Duel’. Afterwards, Spielberg showed that he had the power to turn any story into a massive hit. From ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ to ‘E.T. The Extra Terrestrial’ - as well as ‘Back To The Future’ each of those blockbusters have contained elements that relate to his childhood.
In his latest feature, ‘The Fabelmans’, Spielberg recreates the significant moments in his life that made him who he is today. There is a reason why this has been described as a semi-autobiography, because this story doesn’t cover the main character from each year of his life, it only focuses on what matters most to the person telling the story.
Ever since the day that he saw his first movie, Cecil B. DeMille's' The Greatest Show On Earth’ (1952), Sammy Fabelman became mesmerized by the power of cinema. He began working on his own short films and continued doing them years later at the age of 16. His family is full of love but inside there is a disconnection that impacts all of them.
This is both a coming of age story and a family drama that will relate to a lot more than just its target audience, which may also throw some of its audiences off guard. The message is about what inspired people - in this case filmmakers - to become who they are today and with Steven Spielberg being in his mid-seventies, he is at the point in his career where telling the story of his childhood is necessary for aspiring artists.
The performances are very good, especially Paul Dano, Michelle Williams, and Gabriel LaBelle. Judd Hirsch makes a great screen presence for five minutes. Julia Butters, who’s breakout performance was in ‘Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood’, stands out as one of Sammy’s younger sisters.
During the second act, Spielberg shifts the camera over to Sammy’s family and their situation. It is obvious that what took place in the film affected him in real life, but we never get to see those characters after what occurred nor do they ever become mentioned again. Maybe it all depends on how much detail Spielberg actually wants to share, even if that is the case, leaving those questions unanswered does not allow the story’s conclusion to feel as fulfilling as it really should.
‘The Fabelmans’ lacks some of the potential for it to be considered one of the director’s best works, however we finally received the movie that most film fans have been waiting so many years for and it is worth seeing for those who connect with the storyteller.