The Fabelmans

The Fabelmans is a story of how the things we love the most can bring us the most pain but also drive us to find ourselves. It’s a semi-autobiographical love story to cinema in the truest sense, opening with the precise and logical engineer Burt (Paul Dano) and creative-driven former pianist Mitzi (Michelle Williams) taking a young Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle) to his first film The Greatest Show on Earth. Terrified but engrossed by the images he sees, Sammy begins his journey as a burgeoning filmmaker, enlisting his family and friends into his cinematic projects. Simultaneously, the Fabelman family undergoes a series of moves necessitated by Burt’s increasing success in his engineering career and at the expense of Mitzi’s emotional and social stability.

Steven Spielberg’s 33rd feature film is a marvel coming-of-age story and one of his most personal. Much of its charm comes from its ability to create robust internal lives for its secondary characters, eschewing the standard trope of the world through the eyes of a self-centered main character. There are typical growing pains and tensions for Sammy as he discovers that the world is more complicated and nuanced than he could imagine. The hopes, fears, and missed opportunities of his parents are also given ample time onscreen to allow for a fully composed vision of the rocky progression of a family that truly loves one another, but aren’t always able to move in the same direction.

The Fabelmans is a mesmerizing film, shot with typically expert skill and deftly utilizing Sammy’s films within films to convey joy, fear, and devastating pathos, with the script by Tony Kushner providing truly devastating moments of heartfelt emotion. It’s a fully orchestrated film that manages to maintain its relatability, eagerly shifting between embellishment and moments of truth without losing its potency. PG-13, 151 min.

Wide release in theaters and VOD

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