The Fabelmans (2022)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Steven Spielberg is synonymous with cinema. In Olympus, a place awaits him to share with the great filmmakers who preceded him and who, like him, were a must for moviegoers. Even for a filmmaker of his caliber, the work he undertakes in The Fabelmans (2022) is challenging. For a man who changed the industry with a shark and some musical notes, who made the world fall in love with an alien, who took us on the most amazing adventures with his Indiana Jones, who saved thousands of Jews from extermination Nazi, who saved Private Ryan and who has shown for more than 5 decades that his thing is to make movies, this is still his most difficult move.

Now Spielberg looks at himself, reflects on his career, his motives, his family and on the precise moment that the spark to make movies was ignited in him. In this semi-biographical exercise, we enter a long journey that is told through the eyes of Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle). That Sammy that goes from the naivety of childhood to the pain that emerges with adulthood is outlined on the life experiences of the director himself. His mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams) and his father Burt (Paul Dano) are the two figures who, from opposite poles, polarize Sammy’s life. As time passes, the universe of our protagonist is filled with figures that mark him forever.

Spielberg’s Cinema Paradiso

A night at the movies and the sequence of a speeding train colliding with a car change Sammy Fabelman’s life forever. Impossible for the little boy to know what those feelings were, but something lit up at that precise moment. His father, a man more inclined to science, tries to fulfill that curiosity from a practical point of view, while his mother, with an artistic streak, tries less orthodox paths. Once Sammy becomes fond of moving images and their creation, the film engages in the narrative discourse that it will sustain until the end.

The first third of The Fabelmans feels a bit distant. A longing that is recalled from anecdotes that are very personal. Indeed, it is on this that the script in which Tony Kushner (Munich, Lincoln) and Spielberg himself share credits is built. When the film advances to its second act and puberty begins to sprout, the rhythm becomes more tense and what is told becomes more important. The family drama overlaps the drama of that boy in love with the movies and what Spielberg has to say in this part is more forceful. Michelle Williams in her role as Mitzi takes center stage and we appreciate every minute that she floods the screen with her magnificent performance.

Like what Tornatore did with Cinema Paradiso (1988), Spielberg manages to create a story that inspires from very personal fragments that are intertwined with celluloid, childhood illusions and the torments of adolescence. We can well read this story as a taste of love for cinema, but also between the lines there is an act of atonement in which the director removes thorns that have been ingrown for a long time.

The Fabelmans rests on the execution of a veteran director who dominates every fragment of his staging and on two pillars named John Williams and Janusz Kaminski who have fought several battles alongside Spielberg with his music and his lens.

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