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Eric Claus

The Fabelmans (2022)

The Fabelmans (2022)  

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Spielberg is the best at the "pure sentimental but not cheesy" emotional scenes in film history and this is him at the TOP of game. 

The movie is pretty predictable but fantastic, bland but yet is an instantly emotional film, remarkably watchable and entertaining for what it is. There is recurring "power of movies as story telling vehicle" theme which is great for movie buffs, but they're also kind of an outlet for Sammy as he navigates adolescent issues. 

Spielberg and Michelle Williams are going to get the most awards attention. The kid who actually plays Sammy is excellent and no doubt has a future ahead of him. Williams is the best here though & has by far the meatiest role and turns in a borderline iconic performance. I am not up to snuff with other best actress contenders but this is as Oscar friendly of a role as they make and she nails it. Everyone is going the leave the theater noting she was great. Dano and Rogan are fine as usual, though I couldn't escape the thought that I am watching Seth Rogan be a surrogate father to kid Speilberg. 

Highly encourage everyone to see this and think box office legs will be outstanding.

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The Fabelmans may appear to be a simple excursion into small, character-based drama for Steven Spielberg, but the final product onscreen is a big, ambitious, and deeply personal project that resonates in virtually every single way. Taking the mythos that has long been associated with his films and chronicled in the 2017 HBO documentary on his life, Spielberg crafts a film that feels intimate in its study of family and coming-of-age, yet also grand in its examination of all the ways in which a budding young artist realizes his passion. The script – co-written by Tony Kushner and Spielberg himself – casts even the most seemingly mundane domestic moments as significant occurrences with cleverly constructed dialogue and laser-focused insights into the family dynamics it is examining. Yet, for how dialogue-driven the script might seem to be, the film also looks gorgeous and feels wholly cinematic – the result of both Spielberg flexing near-perfect directorial instincts and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski delivering some of the most visually striking work of his entire career. There is such sincerity and passion in every frame of the film that it practically feels like it could burst off the screen at any minute, and numerous sequences do an incredible job of showing the power that cinema has always held over Spielberg – and by extension, us as his viewers. That said, as great as the film is throughout its running time, it saves its best for its final half-hour, which has so many dynamic moments and pays off on so many long-gestating themes in Spielberg’s work that it had me leaning forward and hanging on every word and image all the way up to its final shot. Though much of the praise for this film will rightly be heaped upon the elements already discussed, it also serves as even further proof of Spielberg’s skill in working with actors. As Spielberg’s teenage stand-in Sam Fabelman, Gabriel LaBelle does affecting and wholly convincing work. Humanizing a fictional representation of a filmmaker with such a tightly constructed public image is no easy work, but LaBelle’s committed work makes it look effortless. Michelle Williams also adds another terrific performance to her resume as Sam’s free-spirited mother, Mitzi. As Mitzi, Williams crafts a complex character and plays her eccentricities and struggles with equal precision; she takes a character who could come across as too broad in lesser hands and shapes her into a sympathetic, achingly human one here. Paul Dano also has some nice moments as Sam’s loving but more emotionally distant father, and he gets some surprisingly powerful scenes as the run time progresses. There’s also an excellent extended cameo from Judd Hirsch as a great uncle whose lessons about art and pain register powerfully, and a cameo later in the film that will undoubtedly bring big smiles to the faces of any film buffs in the audience.

 

One of the greatest marvels of Steven Spielberg is his ability to keep surprising and finding new ways to demonstrate his mastery over cinematic storytelling; even after half a century in the director’s chair, he still refuses to rest on his laurels. The Fabelmans represents not just the most personal film Spielberg has ever made, but also one of the most impassioned and dynamic across an oeuvre not lacking in either of those qualities. It is his best film since Saving Private Ryan, and one of the very best of his entire career. 

 

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I thought this was rather lovely. Throughout his career, one of Steven Spielberg's trademarks has been his ability to remarkably mix human drama with a sense of wonder. Here (also taking on a rare co-writing credit), he does so again, but it hits deeper this time around because he's telling his own story (or at least a fictionalized version of it). It's fascinating to see the beginnings of the man who has gone on to become arguably our most celebrated filmmaker alive and working today, and it remains always engaging even at a long 2.5 hour runtime. It also helps tremendously that, as he usually does with every movie, he brings the story to life with the help of an excellent cast. Young Gabrielle LaBelle is terrific as our stand-in for Spielberg, while both Michelle Williams and Paul Dano are in terrific form as his parents (given the debate over her category placement following her move to Lead, I feel like Williams is more of a Supporting performance). Seth Rogen is also pretty good. Loved the David Lynch as John Ford cameo at the end.

 

I don't think I would label this as among one of Spielberg's best (which should in no way be considered a slight, he's just made that many iconic classics), and it's not nearly as engaging when it gets to California and Sammy's high school life, but it's arguably his most personal and is yet another marvelous addition to his oeuvre.

 

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