The Fabelmans is a 2022 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and written and produced by Tony Kushner and Spielberg. It is a semi-autobiographical story loosely based on Spielberg’s adolescence and first years as a director, told through an original story of the fictional Sammy Fabelman, a young aspiring filmmaker who explores how the power of films can help him see the truth about his dysfunctional family and those around him. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy, with Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and Judd Hirsch in supporting roles. It is dedicated to the memories of Spielberg’s real-life parents Arnold Spielberg and Leah Adler.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “The Fabelmans is a touching and mesmerizing film that celebrates the acclaimed director Steven Spielberg while recounting his origins as a filmmaker. The film is absolutely emotional; it’s mainly about family and deals with the vicissitudes of family interaction while paying homage to cinema.” See her full review below.
The Fabelmans By Zoë C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
The Fabelmans is a touching and mesmerizing film that celebrates the acclaimed director Steven Spielberg while recounting his origins as a filmmaker. The film is absolutely emotional; it’s mainly about family and deals with the vicissitudes of family interaction while paying homage to cinema.
As a kid, Sam Fabelman learns an important lesson from his father, one of the basic principles of filmmaking: retinal persistence. Like magic, films are a simple succession of still images which gives the illusion of movement. When Sammy attends his first movie projection the event turns into a life changing experience. The story follows his life while he discovers his passion for movie making supported by his family: his dad Burt (Paul Dano), his mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams), his 3 sisters, and his uncle Ben (Seth Rogen). His father is an electrical engineer, his mother a concept piano player and the fusion of technicality with art certainly shaped his craft. The family’s dynamic was beautiful yet cloudy at times; a source material turned in melodrama, perfect for great storytelling.
I love the humanity that The Fabelmans displays. And I loved the way the film showed and captured Sam’s life overall, in the sense that it didn’t just feel like you were watching a story. As the audience I could really understand and feel the emotions Sam was feeling. The core of the storyline are the characters and the relationships between them. Despite the Fabelmans are not a perfect family, they stand out in their unity and the bond between them. The relationship between Sam and his mom, masterfully performed by Michelle Williams, is mesmerizing to watch. There’s complicity that it is put to the test, generating wonderful conflict. Williams scenes are like study material for an actor. But every cast member is great at its craft in this film. The camera moves fluidly from the family dinners, to the action scenes contained in Sam’s early films through the corners of the houses where the family moved and the places that hide the deepest family secrets. Janusz Kaminski’s photography resembles the era and has the perfect warmth, and the score of John Williams stays in our hearts. The Fabelmans deserves a nomination on each major category in the upcoming Academy Awards: Best Film, Best Original Script, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Score and Williams and Dana most probably will nod Best Actress and Best supporting actor respectively.
My favorite scenes are Sam experimenting and reproducing the train crash he watched in his first movie experience and Mitzi watching herself in his son family movie. My favorite quote: “Guilt is a waste of an emotion” which I consider profoundly meaningful of what this movie is telling its audience. The message of the film is to be able to find balance in adversity. Families are not perfect, but true bond should prevail.
The Fabelmans is PG 13 due to mature thematic elements and brief violence and drug use.
I give The Fabelmans 5 out of 5 starts and recommended for audiences 12 to 18 and adults. The Fabelmans opens in theaters November 23, 2022.