By Marc Peoples
The final chapter in the “Most Likely to Win Best Picture List”.
The Fabelmans is a coming-of-age drama directed and written by Steven Spielberg and co-written by Tony Kushner. The film stars Gabriel LaBelle, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogan, and Judd Hirsch.
It’s a semi-autobiographical story that’s loosely based on Spielberg’s adolescence and first years as a filmmaker, but it’s told in a fictional story of a young aspiring filmmaker, named Sammy Fabelman who explores how the power of film can help see the truth about his dysfunctional family and others around him.
To be honest, this review might seem a bit biased because, well… this is coming from a Steven Spielberg fan and the story parallels the lives of not only young filmmakers but artists in general. If you are an artist of any sort, this film will click with you on a personal level. Those moments in life when your parents are happy that you have a productive hobby, but as you get older that hobby is still there, and they realized it wasn’t a phase. You’re good at it and it’s become your art. Then that art becomes the most important thing to you, even more important than family. This film has those difficult discussions about how it becomes your entire focus and your relationships with friends and family will suffer because of that.
The acting is top-notch. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play Sammy’s parents Mitzi and Burt Fabelman who are based on Spielberg’s parents. They give us a complex family dynamic, as Williams’ performance as the encouraging, but depressed mother is definitely well deserved for an Oscar nomination and Paul Dano, who is mostly cast as weirdos and serial killers, does a great job as the heartwarming, but methodical thinking father who doesn’t logically understand his son. Judd Hirsch has a small but important role as Sammy’s granduncle.
Gabriel LaBelle is marvelous as Sammy Fabelman, the main character based on Spielberg himself. There are scenes when he comes off as a socially awkward teenager who is artistically a genius and it feels genuine. Sometimes he’ll be a little selfish and egocentric, but most artists are like that (especially in their teens).
The film also has two breaking-the-fourth-wall moments at the end. One involves a cameo from an essential figure in the film industry and another that will make film lovers laugh.
The Fabelmans is Spielberg’s most personal film to date. Once you watch it you will get a better understanding of previous films and him as a filmmaker. In truth, you might get a better understanding of yourself (I’m talking to you aspiring filmmakers out there). In a way, it feels like he’s speaking to us through the film.
Unfortunately, it bombed at the box office, but it was nominated for five Golden Globes and won two for Best Director and Best Picture. Currently, it’s nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. I cannot recommend this movie enough! You can stream on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, YouTube, etc. You can also buy it on DVD.
Marc Peoples is a writer, film, and game enthusiast with a full range of electronic or digital games experience, who lives on the west coast in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated with honors from the Los Angeles Film School (LAFS), where he studied film and screenwriting. www.linkedin.com, www.instagram.com
Photo Credit 1) rogerogreen.com 2) syfy.com 3) timeout.com 4) imdb.com