“Life isn’t a movie, Fableman.”
Story: Little Sammy Fabelman DOES NOT want to go to the movies with his parents. But afterwards, his mom’s help with re-creating a moment in that film to help Sammy deal with his fears? Begins a lifelong love of making movies. No matter where he is, who he’s with, or what’s going on in his life, film is, as his Uncle Boris opines, his “addiction”. And thank goodness for that.
Genre I’d put it in: Award Bait Fodder Spielberg Films
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based loosely on Steven Spielberg’s early life with his family, and the start of his love affair with film
Gotta say: This is a Steven Spielberg film that’s (kinda sorta) about Steven Spielberg growing up, and how he fell in love with making movies. So either you’re going to be all in for this, or you’re not. And as you’re reading this review? I’m assuming you’re down. Good. Because Fabelmans is a wonderful watch.
There’s really not much that I can say about this movie that you haven’t already assumed to be true. The excellent cinematography and pitch perfect art direction. The top-notch storytelling and plotting. The right blend of pathos and humor, laced with historical references. And performances that will probably be on many awards short lists. In essence? Spielberg’s usual accessible high art with heart filmmaking.
A special shout out to the main cast, for breathing life into these characters. Especially Michelle “Gonna Nab Another Bunch Of Awards This Year” Williams as Mitzi/Mom, Judd Hirsch as (crazy?) Uncle Boris, and Chloe East for her delightfully besotted (and kinda adorably religiously unhinged) performance as Sammy’s first love, Monica. These could have been one note parodies, but in the capable hands of quality talent? They’re living beings, flaws and all.
Okay, so I love Steven Spielberg. Fine. I think I pretty much have to; I’m a film reviewer, it’s the law. But it’s also the truth. Fell in love with him when I saw Jaws as a kid, and my affection grew from there. However, with more of his introspective autobiographical joints? I often ask myself am I ready for a really long, deep dive into the psyche of a film addict? Glad to say that this film confirms that every time I watch, the answer is yes.
But with Fabelmans, I’ve got a brand new appreciation. He’s given us a peek at the guy behind the wizard’s curtain. Fabelmans serves to remind me that creators – like Spielberg – don’t jump out of Zeus’ head fully formed. They get interested in something, follow that lead, and, with people in their corner (and a lot of luck along with that hard work)? They become legends.
They say Spielberg had been toying with the idea of making a story about his family for years; even his mother (who passed in 2017) would ask about it. I’m glad he decided to share. Fabelmans is a love letter not only to his friends and family, but to the movie making process in all its forms. Bravo, sir.
#Protip: What’s true and what’s not in this film? Only Steve knows for certain, but there are basics that can be clocked.