Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle, Judd Hirsch
Run Time: 151 mins
The Fabelmans is a coming-of-age drama directed and co-written by Steven Spielberg, representing a passion project for the revered filmmaker. The film is a semi-autobiographical tale loosely based on Spielberg’s adolescence and burgeoning career. Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle and Mateo Zoryan Francis-DeFord in his younger years) is taken to see his first film at the cinema, which has a traumatic yet extraordinary effect on his childhood. Sammy, his mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams) and and three sisters regularly relocate around the United States due to his father, Burt’s (Paul Dano) work. As Sammy grows up, so does his talent and hunger for filmmaking, and not always to his benefit.
The Fabelmans isn’t quite the masterpiece some have professed it to be but it’s certainly a profound and candid effort. If you’re a film fan, this semi-autobiographical tale will definitely resonate in places. Sammy’s love of the medium sometimes usurp his commitments to his family and relationships, and Spielberg deftly explores how filmmaking can consume an individual and how one needs to be reminded that your close ones are more important. It’s beautifully shot by Spielberg-regular Janusz Kaminski, although the film is a tad overlong. That said, it really nails its last half an hour or so.
Gabriel LaBelle’s is excellent as the older Sammy in what his highest profile role to date, following a small role in The Predator. Michelle Williams also makes quite the impression as Mitzi, who’s stuck between a rock and a hard place in her love life. Paul Dano is the standout, however, a scene late in the film where he calms Sammy after he experiences a panic attack is easily some of the best acting of the year.
The Fabelmans is a tender reminiscence of Spielberg’s childhood and although it would benefit from tighter pacing, it’s a warm and personal experience with some excellent performances.