The Fabelmans12¦ 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD
Filmmaking is about one thing, and one thing only – storytelling. And one of the greatest storytellers in modern film history is Steven Spielberg.
The American director has directed nearly sixty films now, with them making a jaw-dropping $10 billion and counting at the box office, making him the top-grossing director of all time.
It comes as no surprise then that his attention would eventually turn to one story he knows well – his own.
1952, New Jersey, a memorable day for a young Sammy Fabelman (Mateo Zoryan), who is being taken to the movies for the very first time by his mom (Michelle Williams) and dad (Paul Dano).
It is a visit that will have a lasting impression on his life, as an older Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle) becomes fascinated with the filmmaking process, making home movies featuring family and friends.
It’s his love of film however, that reveals a secret within his family, a secret so shocking it could put him off filmmaking for life.
Although only semi-autobiographical, this project took over 20 years to make it to the screen, as Spielberg has admitted he was worried what his parents may think of it. But over time, he came around to the idea, especially as he let it be known that both of his parents were nagging him to make it, before they both died.
So what you have then is a labour of love, made with love, giving an insight of sorts, into the making of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.
It’s a hybrid of a film, in being both a family drama, as well as a high school flick. In that sense it’s almost like a film version of The Wonder Years, without the voiceover, delving into pure Americana.
There are some strong performances here, especially from both Williams and Dano who present a couple who are different in so many ways, but there is still love there, during the most testing of times. And their respective portrayals of mom and dad are delivered with great subtlety and sensitivity.
The real star however is LaBelle, in his first leading role, as a young Spielberg/Fabelman who is not only venturing into the world of film, but also adolescent life.
It may only be semi-autobiographical, but it must have struck a chord or two with its director, as many of the cast have since gone on to talk of not only the responsibility of playing his family members, but also reducing him to tears during certain scenes.
It is a feature that is likely to resonate more with two types of (overlapping) audiences – those with a love of film, and those with a love of Spielberg.
It may not be the flashy blockbuster type film we’re used to from Spielberg, but this personal touch he delivers here is just as impressive.
Where it does fit in with the rest of his outstanding work is as a further example of a story beautifully crafted and well told by one of the greatest storytellers ever.