The Fabelmans follows a similar trend seen in cinema lately, from Sam Mendes’ love letter to the theatre house in Empire of Light and Oscar winning director Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. While they do so while showing his love for the medium, Steven Spielberg’s latest release if anything is a credit to everything which has made the director’s career.
A semi-autobiographical film, Spielberg’s latest entry follows the Fabelman family. Based on the characters of his own life with different names, we are introduced to a young Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle), his mum Mitzi (Michelle Williams), along with his dad Burt (Paul Dano). The opening starts with the young boy becoming dazzled and fascinated by Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth. What follows is a fascination for the art of filmmaking and the representation for life on film.
If you’re familiar with the life and upbringing of Spielberg, it is hard not to get away with the dramatization displayed. The film is great at unravelling each storyline intertwining one with the other while showing the sensitive and soft nature of young Sammy. While his mum is a glamorous aspiring Pianist wanting the fun and freedom of life, his dad is an ambitious man of science on the cusp of a prosperous move to California. Seth Rogan also makes an appearance as Burt’s lovable colleague and friend ‘Uncle Bennie’, who we see has much more of a universal impact on Sammy’s upbringing than expected. Sammy’s two younger sisters feature to adding to the nuclear family and their life while presenting the change in family dynamics.
Following on from this in a familiar trope of Spielberg’s film, is his fascination for capturing life’s moments on camera. Ever since his recreation of The Greatest Show on Earth when he was young, you get to see the profound effect of filmmaking, editing and creativity on his life. From cameos of E.T and Saving Private Ryanfrom his home-made shorts. The penultimate moment of his work comes from a group camping trip, which leaves him wondering if filmmaking was forever for him.
Ultimately the film has heart and when leaving the cinema, you can only wonder on the love Steven has for the medium of film, giving you answers to his impressive career. You can only get the sense that The Fabelman’s is his most innovative project to date. Following on from the surprising and under looked Adaption of West Side Story in 2021, what Steven does is tell you about what affected his upbringing most while not coming across in a forceful manner. While the film unfortunately deals with the rise and effects of antisemitism on his life, it does not though in a way which is overdone for the sake of narrative.
The Fabelmans is neither a family movie or full of action but overall, it is a tender and sincere story which does not aim at a definitive end, but it does so subtly with a tribute for the ages.