The Fabelmans finds the director reflecting on the experiences that made him the filmmaker we know and love based on his childhood in Arizona.
Gabriel LaBelle gives a breakout performance as the teenage Sammy Fabelman, always desperate for a new piece of gear to make bigger and more ambitious films with his family and friends. Watching his journey will remind you of your own childhood memories bringing a smile to your face and in your heart.
Michelle Williams is the heart and soul of the household, Sammy’s biggest fan and a supremely skilled pianist making her as enchanting as she is eccentric. Williams excels and is particularly masterful in bringing to the surface a myriad of emotions without uttering a single syllable. This is indeed her secret weapon and special gift as an artist.
A fact Mr. Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer, adores and loathes all at once. Their family is rounded out by his loveable co-worker Benny (Seth Rogen), who becomes an uncle to Sammy and his sisters, always along for the ride with the Fabelmans. This unique combination of parental figures eventually becomes a source of tension with Sammy at the centre, and that seeps into his creative work.
Instead of chasing sharks or running from giant boulders, Spielberg has Sammy navigating the interpersonal landmines of home and school life, in what may be the most emotionally expansive film of his career. Starting with gunslingers and war stories, the way any Boy Scout in the late 1950s might, we are shown not only what sparked Spielberg’s love for cinema, but also how empathy and human relationships have sneaked their way into his cinematic tapestry.
In addition to witnessing some key elements from Spielberg,s work along the way, Judd Hirsch‘s Uncle Boris is a definite highlight. His performance is like watching a comedy kamikaze master at work in one of the greatest moments of his career.
Clocking in at nearly three hours, the film could’ve used a little more shaving down. Having said that, The Fabelman’s is a charming, touching tribute to a family that all audiences can relate to regardless of color or creed.