A cinematic masterpiece in the form of a personal memoir, The Fabelmans lays the foundation for the Steven Spielberg we know today brick by brick in a tantalizingly intimate drama that touchingly captures the ups and downs, the love and the heartbreak, the laughter and tears… the experiences that go on to form our very being… in my favorite Spielberg film to date.
Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) desires to become a filmmaker after a trip to the movies at a young age inspires him. With his loving mother (Michelle Williams) in his corner, Sammy traverses his developmental years encountering experiences that will mold him into, ultimately, a legendary filmmaker. There is an artistry to The Fabelmans that intricately weaves what can be viewed as a simple story into one that blossoms with adolescent lessons and growth at every turn. Nobody can hook you into a story like Spielberg, arresting your senses with visual perfection and captivating dialogue that cuts to the core of the emotions explored. It helps to have a cast that rises to the occasion, of course, and the performances in The Fabelmans are nothing short of extraordinary. Williams is absolutely mesmerizing as a mother with feelings in constant conflict, a challenging role that shows her full range of talent and demands consideration for the industry’s top honors. Paul Dano and Seth Rogen are both solid, the latter notable for what may be his best dramatic performance yet. But the shining star of the film is young LaBelle who is simply sensational, carrying both the film and the audience through the developmental ups and downs of his character’s journey with the timing and techniques of a veteran performer.
With The Fabelmans, Spielberg utilizes his lived experiences to form a sentimental, reflective, heartfelt ride that not only tells his story, but provides avenues for the audience to connect with what is playing out on screen. Even with a lengthy runtime, I could have sat for hours more as I was hungry to keep watching LaBelle’s character plow forward with more of the personal cinematography and poignant score sweeping me further into the beauty unfolding. The Fabelmans captures the magic of cinema through the eyes of a young man who would go on to change the industry forever, but even more than that, it reminds moviegoers of the joys of filmic escapism and the power of storytelling. Please be careful with your Oscar statue at the afterparty, Mr. Spielberg.
The Fabelmans hits theaters on Wednesday.