[OSCAR REVIEW] The Fabelmans is the ultimate movie-about-movies


Storyteller Distribution Co

“YOU TALK TOO MUCH.” Sammy Fabelman (left, Gabriel Labelle) is trapped in his room and has no choice but to listen as uncle Boris (right, Judd Hirsch) gives him a speech on art.

Thomas Ferguson, Staff Writer

Although The Fabelmans came out last year, it is still the high-brow feel good flick it was four months ago. It might even be one of the best movies of the 2022, but more importantly, is why.

The Fabelmans is a slice-of-life film directed by Steven Spielberg, based loosely on his childhood. It follows his life from his first interest in film at the age of 12 all the way up to the launching of his professional career in film (the final scene has a cameo appearance from David Lynch, which makes the entire movie worth seeing anyway). In between, however, we see Sammy (Spielberg’s alias) buy cameras, move across the country and even fall in love.

The Fabelmans is an instant comfort movie that is worth watching no matter who you are.

It’s difficult to critique a movie like The Fabelmans, but it certainly is not without its faults. The movie does feel a tad cliche at times, although that is not really a fair assessment to make seen as it is based on Steven Spielberg’s life.

At some points, especially towards the beginning, the movie feels a little too vivid, in an almost jarring way.

The Fabelmans, at its worst, feels like The Polar Express felt at its best.

That being said, the cinematography is unlike anything viewers have ever seen. This is not exactly surprising coming from a director like Spielberg, but even for him, this movie is ahead of its time. The colors are incredibly vibrant and are used masterfully to create tone and invoke emotion. Similarly, Spielberg uses framing in a simple but nonetheless powerful way to elicit extreme reactions from the audience, likely similar to the ones he himself experienced as a child watching movies.

This leads to the next thing the movie does well, which is how The Fabelmans makes viewers feel like they are experiencing film new again. Last year, most of what movie-viewers got was B-grade superhero flicks* or nostalgic reboots that seemed to drag on and on. It was so refreshing to round out the year with an honest, simple movie like this, especially because of the connection film buffs have with it. Funnily enough, those who resonated with the movie most were also those feeling the entertainment drought to the fullest. This saving grace of quality was further aided by some absolute flooring performance from the whole cast, most notably from Mitzi Fabelman (Michelle Williams) and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano). Often it takes a while to start to believe the characters are who they say they are, but both actors cement their roles the moment they step on screen.

While the actors are of course excellent, they couldn’t have become such believable people without the help of a moving screenplay, co-written by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner. While it is mostly based on Spielberg’s life they weren’t confined to 100% accuracy, which really gives the screenplay an extra imaginative boost from its two great authors. This is shown best by the scene where Sammy faces a big turning point in his life: Uncle Boris convinces him to choose between his film and his family. This scene in particular is extremely moving, especially for any artists who have had to make a similar decision.

Overall, The Fabelmans is an instant comfort movie that is worth watching no matter who you are.