The great Steven Spielberg is back with a pseudo-autobiography of how he began making films and how his love for movies grew from a very young age. Through this narrative, Spielberg created “The Fabelmans,” which is an astounding piece of modern cinema.
“The Fabelmans” takes place in the 1950s, following Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) as he experiences cinema for the first time, which ultimately changes his life forever. His parents support him in his early obsession, buying a camera for him to make movies with his sisters at home. As Sammy grew, so did his ambition for film. He began making bigger and more daring films, even making some large technological advances all on his own.
After Sammy’s father (Paul Dano) gets a new job in sunny Arizona, Sammy starts making a western epic with his Boy Scout troop that dazzles the troop with its fun story and shocking realism.
As Sammy gets older and his life is turned upside down when he’s uprooted from his Arizona home and moved to California, the harsh reality of the real world hits him like the fist of an antisemitic high school bully. Sammy struggles through his new high school, where he’s bullied for being Jewish by antisemitic jocks who aren’t too pleased when he tries to stand up for himself.
While trying to get through high school, his father urges him to pursue other career options, but Sammy’s true and only passion has been film. Sammy tries to find a way to balance his love for his family with his passion for film from a young age.
From start to finish, this film was an absolutely amazing experience. The film reminds the audience of the wonder and magic of cinema, even in the most seemingly mundane of moments. Through simple camera tricks and pieces of dialogue, the movie shows how fantastical cinema can be and how much it means to so many people.
I could tell that everyone involved with this film cares deeply about what they do. This film showed why they do it: to inspire the next generation of great filmmakers.
The writing in this movie was phenomenal, from the deep, emotional moments of storytelling to the quick bits of expert comedic timing that had me legitimately howling in the theater – sorry to everyone who was in there with me. The dialogue was completely natural, which seems to be a trait lacking in a lot of most modern blockbusters.
This writing was also elevated by the performances of the actors, with a standout performance from Michelle Williams as Mitzi Fabelman, Sammy’s lively yet troubled mother. Williams puts on a powerful performance that progresses realistically and is able to tap into the hearts of even the most cynical viewer.
The last thing I admired about this movie that tied everything together was the immaculate production design. From the very beginning of the film, viewers are instantly transported to a different time and place, and the film holds them there for the entirety of the runtime. There is never a moment where the CGI slips and brings the viewer out of it, or any costume, hairstyle or other piece of production design that didn’t seem to fit. Everything in this film ran like clockwork and made for one of the greatest films of recent memory.
So if anyone needs a reminder of how great a film can be, or just a wholesome story about a boy pursuing his passions, “The Fabelmans” will fill those needs.