Film Review – The Fabelmans (2022)

Title – The Fabelmans (2022) 

Director – Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan

Cast – Michelle Williams, Gabriel LaBelle, Paul Dano, Judd Hirsch, Seth Rogen

Plot – Inspired by the upbringing of director Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans follows the journey of young boy Sammy (LaBelle) as he looks to follow his dreams of making movies with the support of his loving mother Mitzi (Williams) and the doubts and naysaying of his father Burt (Dano). 

“Movies are dreams that you never forget”

Review by Eddie on 16/01/2023

Currently aged 76 years, the harsh reality of the situation is we are now very much in the twilight period of influential director and all-round cinematic treasure Steven Spielberg’s life.

The multi-Oscar winning spectacled filmmaker has long provided audiences around the globe with a vast array of worthy features ranging from the large-scale to the small-scale, with his based on his own experiences The Fabelmans his most intimate, personal and quiet film in an extensive catalogue of products.

Beloved by critics, this semi-autobiographical drama may have struck a chord with the “experts” and awards circuits (likely to be a major factor in the upcoming key Oscar categories) but has curiously become one of Spielberg’s biggest box-office duds in a career littered with success stories, which is a shame as The Fabelmans is a worthy addition to the director’s legendary career that showcases a different side of both the filmmaker and the person behind the camera.

Proclaimed to be Spielberg’s love letter to the power of cinema and the artistry that lays at the core of what the medium provides, The Fabelmans is certainly that in some capacity but it’s also just as much if not more so a tribute to Spielberg’s parents with Michelle Williams Mitzi and Paul Dano’s Burt Fabelman lovingly crafted incarnations of Spielberg’s influential kin that is key to Gabriel LaBelle’s Sammy’s growth from a wide-eyed movie loving child to a close to adulthood dreamer unsure of where his “hobby” may take him.

In many ways there’s not so much of plot to Spielberg’s film as such with key moments such as a camping trip, Scout movie projects and family interactions making up much of The Fabelmans runtime and some viewers may find their interest levels wanning at times as the films two and half hour runtime moves on without much of a hurry but as you would expect from such a talented and intelligent director as Spielberg there’s so much love for cinema displayed here and so much warmth and emotion that you can’t help but be impressed by yet another such fully formed feature from the iconic figure.

Far more humorous and softly spoken than we’ve come to expect from Spielberg across his career (a scene involving a Christian loving teenager one of the funniest of the director’s career), The Fabelman’s is a chance for Spielberg to dial things way back with his casts impressive but unshowy performances, highlighted by a career making turn from LaBelle and scene-stealing cameos from Judd Hirsch and David Lynch all noteworthy with Dano and Williams both assured Oscar nominees while even his supposed last collaboration with longstanding collaborator and composer John Williams beautiful in its simple yet effective nature, much like the work of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski who ensures The Fabelmans is up there with the best looking Spielberg’s features of the last few decades.

Where The Fabelmans will rank amongst the filmography of Spielberg’s CV is still to be determined by the time yet to come but there’s little doubt that we should be thankful for Spielberg showing us a different and more vulnerable side to himself that comes across in this heart-warming and insightful piece of his own self come to life before our eyes.

Final Say –

Closing in one of the most memorable ways imaginable, The Fabelman’s takes us on a kindly observed coming of age tale that just so happens to remind us of the power of the moving image to play a role in our lives, as well as offering us a reminder that we are so very fortunate to have shared the cinematic journey that Spielberg has been destined to follow since the age he first laid eyes on the cinema screen. 

4 horizons out of 5

24 responses to “Film Review – The Fabelmans (2022)

  1. Now I’m wondering what are your criteria for choosing the one title that represents a director at the start of the review? 🙂

    • Oh mate, it’s a very random set of rules haha. I think it’s whatever pops into my head at the time, sometimes I wanted to remind people of the good and other times the bad 🙂

  2. The Fabelmans is a beautifully crafted film that never feels as long as its running time. The films covers many themes and has a deceptively simple storyline: there’s a lot going on under the surface. I would recommend it to all lovers of film. The less you know about the film in advance, the better.

    • I am really intrigued to see how it plays at the Oscars, my gut feel says Spielberg will win for director but I am sensing Everything, Everywhere All at Once will win the Best Picture gong.

      • Personally, I’m not that rapt in Everything, Everywhere All at Once. Though I did think Michelle Yeoh was superb. She is deserving of an individual gong.

      • I was the same mate, I wish I liked the film as much as it appears almost everyone else did but I didn’t find it as perfect as the majority did. The cast were great though, be happy to see any of the actors win some awards.

  3. I have been reading Spielberg’s biography for way too long now (years before he started filming this) and I was thinking when someone will make a movie because he had a fascinating early life.

    • I must admit to not knowing a whole lot about Spielberg’s early years pre Duel and Jaws so I had no idea what was in store for me. I will have to sit down and read some of his bio’s as his always been such a wonderful filmmaker I have been enjoying since I can remember.

      • The way he got into the studio system is also very much of the era. Many jobs were started that way. Today one would need much more sophisticated tactics. In any case his talent and perseverance are inspiring.

      • I loved how this film touched on that, I had no idea about those early moments in his career. You are right though, nowadays that type of start in the system would almost be impossible.

  4. I’ve still not gotten round to seeing The Fablemans yet, I’m really hoping I manage to catch it at the cinema before its run ends in the UK. Fingers crossed, it sounds brilliant.

  5. It’s only just hit cinemas here really, lots of love in the UK – I blinking loved it, review on Critical Popcorn if you fancy a read to – no pressure though

    Interestingly, I start with a bit of a ramble about expectation as well but it didn’t let me down, and actually wasn’t as sentimental as I thought – just a real love letter to his Mum and film itself. 🙂

  6. Pingback: The Movie Guys – 2023 Oscar Predictions | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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