The Fabelmans (2022) - 7/10
The Fablemans starts with two very enthusiastic parents trying to convince their reticent son that he’s going to love his first trip to the cinema. They’ve maybe not chosen the best film, but young Sammy (Mateo Zoryan) is certainly gripped. Spielberg’s talent is in telling a story, in this case his, whilst slipping in some genuine human emotion. The Fabelmans are emotional people. Thoughtful, creative, passionate, Jewish, very Jewish and sadly a little bit annoying. Sammy’s father, Burt (Paul Dano) especially, but generally everyone’s very cookie cutter, overly pleasant… to begin with. Well aside the grandma who’s a miserable old sod. Mitzi (Michelle Williams) begins to find her husband annoying too and it’s clear that there’s trouble in the air. We’re a product of our parents and our upbringing, even though Steven, I mean Sammy is the focus, it’s his family that drives this… hence the title I guess. Fuelled by that first film experience, his childhood is framed by his interest in capturing scary events, then making stories, making films, but it’s not the carefully crafted war films he makes that are truly scary, reality packs a much harder punch. It’s a fun watch. The analogue romance of old film and projectors as teenage Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle) begins to experiment. He’s his fathers engineering prowess mixed with his mothers artistic flare. Speaking of flare, what a treat to see Judd Hirsch chew the scenery as Uncle Boris. He’s some wise words delivered with gusto for Sammy. Finally landing in California. Sammy’s life is getting complicated. Antisemitic classmates, trouble at home and his mums got a pet monkey named after what’s causing the trouble. Things are unravelling. It’s a good film. I’m not sure it’s quite as great as some reviewers think, but the Spielberg factor undoubtably scores extra points. It’s a bit messy in places and despite some of the themes a bit stuck on the surface, but it looks great. LaBelle is great. Williams is great. Even Seth Rogan is decent. David Lynch as John Ford is a cigar smoking scene stealer. “When the horizons at the bottom it’s interesting, when the horizons at the top it’s interesting, when the horizons on the middle it’s boring as shit”. Film is Sammy’s escape and although this one has its issues, it is too.