The Fabelmans Review

*This is a semi true story…

IMDB Synopsis

Young Sammy Fabelman falls in love with movies after his parents take him to see “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Armed with a camera, Sammy starts to make his own films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother.

“Movies are dreams that you never forget.”

For as long as I have been watching movies, to me it has always been Steven Spielberg and then everyone else. I mean when you have made JAWS, E.T., JURASSIC PARK, SCHINDLERS LIST, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, RAIDERS OF THE FREAKING LOST ARK, and I am literally not even scratching the surface, it will be hard to compete with that resume. So to see him in the year 2022 give us a film about his childhood and why he decided to make a life out of cinema is a real treat for us film lovers. We have seen this in the last few years with Alfonso Cuaron’s ROMA, Kenneth Branagh’s BELFAST, James Gray’s ARMAGEDDON TIME, and Sam Mendes upcoming EMPIRE OF LIGHT, all these director’s exploring their childhoods to show us how their love of film blossomed. So to see Spielberg do it is not a surprise but it is still welcome.

He decides to call the family in this story The Fabelmans, but we all know this is basically just the Spielbergs. We also know famously Spielberg’s parents got divorced and it affected him and numerous ways, which he has put on screen in a number of his movies. This story though shows us when times were good and his parents (played by Paul Dano and Michelle Williams) were huge influences on his filmmaking. Spielberg is noted for being able to master storytelling and artistry with technical achievements. Can it be chalked up to his mother being an artist and his father being an engineer? Who knows but clearly he is trying to evaluate that and show us why cinema has made such an impact on him.

Early in the film we get to see young Sammy Fabelman when he is really young see his first movie ever “THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH” and go home and try to recreate one of the scenes with his camera. Of course, this sets off his obsession with cameras and his way to use film to distract him from everything else going on be it bullying at school, his mom having an affair, or his dad moving them all over the country. He always has his camera and always trying to tell stories.

On the technical side, I gotta be honest this one is bittersweet for me and for the Spielberg Squad. John Williams, the greatest movie composer of all time said this is his last movie. He has worked with Spielberg on every movie since JAWS and has created the most iconic themes and scores of all time. To go out on this one makes sense because of course he created another masterpiece. This will probably be the swan song as well for editor Michael Kahn, who has done every movie besides ET since CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. His editing is always top notch and you never feel out of place in any scenes. Lastly, Janusz Kaminski again is here as the cinematographer, it probably wont be his last time working with Spielberg but he still gives us a great performance here and makes the movie look great as usual.

Stock Watch

Stock Neutral – Michelle Williams

She is ostensibly the star of the movie, or better yet the emotional heart of the movie. She gets to encourage Sammy the entire time and we get to see how her mental issues affected her relationships with family and friends. She is for sure looking at another Oscar nomination and I would not be surprised if she gets her first win.

Stock Neutral – Paul Dano

For years he has made a living playing crazy people in movies like THERE WILL BE BLOOD, PRISONERS, and THE BATMAN, so it was nice to see him play a much softer role here. He plays a great soft spoken dad who is just trying to do what is best for his family, however his work consumes him so he is conflicted. Dano can do anything he wants and I hope he is in our lives for a very long time.

Stock Up – Seth Rogen

Rogen has quietly in the last several years been building up a nice dramatic Resume. Movies like 50/50, STEVE JOBS, and now THE FABELMANS have shown a different side of him to the moviegoing audience and I cannot wait to see more. He is a great actor even playing a semi unlikable character he found a way to make him charming. I will of course watch anything he does.

Stock Neutral – Steven Spielberg

Haha imagine his stock ever going down at this point. But I will say this movie is his first writing credit in a long time, so that was cool to see.

*A couple other tidbits

  • The movie is a tad long but I can forgive Spielberg for being indulgent.
  • I thought it was interesting they touched on his judaism but it was not a huge focal point.
  • The train scene is stunning.
  • Judd Hirsch is in the movie for a very short time, but makes an impact that almost steals the whole film.
  • You can see the bits of movies like JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and E.T. here in this story.

What more can I say, the movie is not perfect and drags the tiniest bit, but it is just so charming. At the end you walk out with a smile on your face and a renewed love for cinema. There is really not much more I can ask for from the greatest director of all time.

Juice Rating:

*You can find my 2022 Movie Rankings here.

*You can find my Steven Spielberg Rankings here.

*You can find all of my Movie Ratings here.

*You can follow my Letterboxd account here.

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