The Fabelmans

  • 18 Feb - 24 Feb, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

The first time Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) goes to the movies leaves a lasting memory. He is so in awe of what he saw that he starts to shoot and edit his own movies to try to replicate it. As he stages more complicated scenarios that require more personnel and resources, this quickly becomes more than just a hobby. However, the outcomes speak for themselves. Sammy even tries creative editing techniques that hypnotise his audience. Mitzi (Michelle Williams), Sammy's creative mother, is encouraging while Burt (Paul Dano), Sammy's father, is more practical but nonetheless sympathetic. However, the family is put under greater strain than anticipated when Burt has to move for a new career.

Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner's semi-fictional screenplay, which adheres to the fundamentals of storytelling, draws inspiration from aspects of Spielberg's own background and gives them a cinematic flair. Sammy shares the distinguished director's passion for movies, and his treatment of The Fabelmans reflects this. Spielberg builds the story around the young Sammy, who is portrayed to near-perfectness by Gabriel LaBelle in a breakthrough role and who is so enamoured with shooting and editing that he entirely immerses himself in it. Sammy uses photography as a coping strategy as life unfolds around him, which proves to be both a blessing and a curse. The Fabelman family is impacted by this, particularly Sammy's mother, who is superbly portrayed by Michelle Williams.

She has earned a Best Actress nomination for the next Academy Awards based only on one scene of startling realisation. Although Judd Hirsch only makes a few brief cameos, they leave an imprint that justifies his Oscar nomination. Paul Dano is adorable as a loving but practical father.

The Fabelmans explores what it means to live a life dedicated to pursuing one's passion and how often this comes with a cost. Instead of turning it into a narcissistic showcase, Spielberg chooses to emphasise the youthful curiosity necessary to become fixated on a creative craft. He doesn't hold back from emphasising the trappings of tenacious determination. The Fabelmans is a cinematic ode with some heartfelt insights that could only come from Spielberg, along with a dream technical cast that includes editor Michael Kahn, composer John Williams, and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, among others.