The Fabelmans (2022) Review
LEGENDARY filmmaker Steven Spielberg steps back into the director's chair since his award winning interpretation of Broadway musical West Side Story as he gives audiences an inside look into a movie loosely based off Spielberg's youthful years and how he became mesmerised by the power of motion pictures. But the big question on everyone's mind: does it come close to recreating the magic seen in previous ventures like Schindler's List or E.T?
The Fabelmans follows a young Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) as he discovers his unrelenting passion for motion pictures. But as years progress and he discovers secrets surrounding his parents Burt (Paul Dano) and Mitzi (Michelle Williams), Sammy realises the true power films possess and how they can further aid not only his professional life, but his personal life as well.
From the trailers alone it is clear that Spielberg wanted The Fabelmans to be an unapologetic love letter to the art of cinema. Motion pictures are used throughout the film not only as a time capsule of the period, but as a way of progressing relationships and events forward. Lead protagonist is the antithesis of this, utilising his camera and video editors to create simple homemade pictures, that while rudimentary, serve as heartfelt family memories which show the progress in quality of the amateur filmmaker's creations. And despite the quality of the older films not being "up to speed", it manages to turn full circle, becoming accurately represented historical pieces for the time period with a pinch of soul sprinkled throughout to depict that these were in fact made by a youth.
The same authenticity shown in the onscreen motion pictures can also be applied to the family and teen drama, particularly in the third act. Much of this drama can be attributed to Gabriel LaBelle, Paul Dano, Julia Butters, and for my money the standout performance in the entire film, Michelle Williams. Each of these talented actors and actresses bring varying elements of passion and emotion to primary scenes in The Fabelmans, using the power of Sammy's movies and each other to create heartfelt moments that cement the film as a heart-warming tear-jerker that will make you laugh as much as it makes you feel. Michelle Williams performance is the poster woman for these feelings, giving one of the best performances in what is already a hall of fame worthy one. Her character arc as a loving mother and husband wanting the best for her family while also wanting what's best for herself is a realistic ordeal that is punctuated by William's phenomenal use of body language as the film progresses from a happy go lucky family affair to a somber tale of guilt and regret; a top-ranked Best Actress nominee easily.
It is fair to say I may have some bias when reviewing this movie since it's a love-letter to the art of cinema, but even without my clear favouritism, The Fabelmans is one of Steven Spielberg's best. There are few movies nowadays which can make you feel as much as this one does, but Spielberg does it again by creating a simple story that dives deep enough where it doesn't feel disingenuous and will bring a broad smile of unfeigned delight to even the most apathetic viewer.