TIFF 2022: THE FABELMANS Finds Truth In Reality, Through A Lens
The Fabelmans is Steven Spielberg’s most personal movie to date. Or at least, that’s sort of the only marketing of the movie that we got for a while. The movie is a fictionalized biopic of Spielberg’s own youth. But what audiences heard of it, and what we got, kind of misleads the audience in many ways. Despite that, The Fabelmans movie review is all about how it’s actually a sweet and poignant story about life seen through a lens. And how those experiences, shaped one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Read on to find out more.
Disclaimer From The Critic
First, let’s start by putting something out there. I don’t have as much of an affinity for Steven Spielberg’s filmography as some of my critics and journalist peers. I love his movies, and he definitely is one of the most prolific filmmakers of all time. But I don’t necessarily hold him up to the do-no-wrong esteem that many tend to.
The Fabelmans Is Not Your Typical Biopic. Or One At All.
So given that, a semi-biopic of Spielberg by Spielberg didn’t really get me too excited. Especially seeing that I was sort of expecting a typical biopic formula. But The Fabelmans is best not viewed from that angle, but instead as just a heart-warming coming-of-age story about a young man with a unique interest in storytelling.
The Fabelmans doesn’t feature the typical easter eggs of formative moments in the professional life of director Steven Spielberg. You’re not going to get any behind-the-scenes of his famous movies, or eureka moments of when he came up with the story for *insert your favourite Spielberg movie here*. It’s a moving tale of a young boy and how he sees life through a camera lens, and the truth he finds within it.
The Fabelmans Movie Review Has No Spoilers
The Fabelmans follows the life of a Jewish family and their simple yet complex lives. The story is from the point of view of Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle), the only son of the family. Initially, it’s all about Sammy and his budding love for filmmaking. He discovers at a young age his love for making movies, telling stories and finding solutions that result in some innovative guerrilla and independent filmmaking techniques.
But as he begins to look at life through the lens of a movie camera, certain truths become illuminated. The majority of the movie then deals with Sammy realizing that life isn’t as simple as he thought. The Fabelmans movie review discusses just how he must reconcile those feelings with that of his love of movie making.
Not Sure About Best Picture, But The Performances Are Oscar Worthy
The Fabelmans also features an incredibly amazing cast. Supporting LaBelle in his breakout role is Paul Dano as Sammy’s father, Burt, and Michelle Williams as his mother, Mitzi. Sammy’s relationship with his quirky and troubled mother is one of the highlights of the movie. It’s one of the most nuanced depictions of a mother-son relationship that I’ve seen on-screen in a long time. Williams is charming, and devastating and exudes such frantic energy that it’s captivating.
Dano, on the other hand, plays Burt as a good man trying to do the best for his family, but a little out of his depth. The scenes between these three actors are so powerful and noteworthy, even at their most mundane. Dano and Williams add so much depth to the movie, that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in these roles.
This is the first time I’m seeing LaBelle in anything, and he is damn impressive. Despite sharing screen space with these incredible veteran performers, LaBelle stands out! He plays Sammy with the eager and idealistic naivety that the role requires. Sammy’s growth through the movie is performed adeptly by LaBelle, who, honestly, steals the show in many moments.
The supporting performances are also pretty great. Although, Seth Rogen showing up and doing his usual Seth Rogen shtick is a little jarring in this kind of setting. But Judd Hirsch more than makes up for it in his brief appearance. Hirsch is amazing in the few minutes of screen time he has and probably conveys the most important lesson to Sammy in the whole movie.
Is The Fabelmans Spielberg’s Greatest Movie?
Despite my glowing The Fabelmans movie review, I don’t believe it to be in the calibre of movies that audiences should expect from Spielberg. It’s an incredible exploration of truth in reality and the experiences that shape a young person’s life. It definitely is Spielberg’s most personal film to date and is an incredible achievement in and of itself. But as a family drama, it might not be what people are expecting from the director of Jaws or Ready Player One.
Hopefully audiences still give The Fabelmans a chance, as it truly is a beautiful experience.
The Fabelmans is now playing in theatres everywhere.
What did you think of The Fabelmans? Do you think it holds up as a great Spielberg movie, or that the director indulged himself with a personal story? Let me know in the comments below. Or on Twitter at @theshahshahid.