Saturday 4 March 2023

Movie Review: The Fabelmans (2022)

Genre: Coming Of Age Drama
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle
Running Time: 151 minutes

Synopsis: In 1952, married couple Mitzi and Burt Fabelman (Michelle Williams and Paul Dano) are raising their family in New Jersey. Mitzi sacrificed a piano career for her family, while Burt is a computer design engineer. Both are close friends with Burt's work colleague Bennie (Seth Rogen). Their young son Sammy is dazzled by movie making, and Mitzi encourages his passion. Burt gets a new job and the family moves to Phoenix, where teenaged Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle) joins the boy scouts and develops his amateur moviemaking skills. Through the camera lens Sammy awakens to his parents as people, and another family move, this time to California, beckons.

What Works Well: Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical story, co-written with Tony Kushner, uses humour and pathos to chart a heartwarming journey into adulthood. A trio of personal discoveries nurture the softly glowing narrative: an awakening to the love of filmmaking, here portrayed with a wacky mix of talent and bravado; the realization that parents are fault-filled adults but no less capable of pure love; and the transformative yet understated power of astute storytelling, underlined in a third act that thrives almost as a film within a film. Spielberg sustains remarkable consistency by ensuring Sammy's experiences are tightly wound around the family unit. Michelle Williams shines as the mother hiding an ocean of unmet expectations, and newcomer Gabriel LaBelle delivers a winning performance as the budding young man. Judd Hirsch's short but wall-shaking appearance as the legendary Uncle Boris is unforgettable.

What Does Not Work As Well: As a minor quibble, Sammy's sisters could have been afforded more prominence.

Conclusion: An epic yet easily accessible achievement, projecting deeply personal episodes into universal experiences.

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