The Fabelmans

The Fabelmans
Original title:The Fabelmans
Director:Steven Spielberg
Running time:151 minutes
Release date:11 november 2022
A deeply intimate portrait of an American childhood in the 20th century, Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans delves into the filmmaker's family history that shaped his personal and professional life. Based on the story of a lonely young man who aspires to achieve his dreams, the film explores relationships, artistic ambition, sacrifice and moments of clarity that allow us to take a sincere and tender look at ourselves and our parents. Film buff Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle, The Predator, American Gigolo) spends his time filming his family. While he is encouraged to do so by his artistically inclined mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams, four-time Oscar nominee), his father Burt (Paul Dano, The Batman, There Will Be Blood), an accomplished scientist, sees his passion as a hobby. Over the years, Sammy, by dint of pointing his camera at his parents and sisters, has become the documentarian of the family history! He even makes small amateur films that become more and more sophisticated, played by his friends and sisters. But when his parents decide to move to the West, he discovers a shocking reality about his mother that upsets his relationship with her and changes his future and that of his family.

Mulder's Review

To my parents who passed on to me their passion for cinema from my childhood

Steven Spielberg is undoubtedly one of the greatest directors of our time. With three Oscars and numerous awards around the world, including two recent Golden Globes (best dramatic film and best director for The Fabelmans), he never ceases to amaze us with his many films, whether they are blockbusters like E.T., the alien, Jurassic Park or more recently Ready Player One, or more intimate films like Lincoln, Bridge of Spies and this masterful The Fabelmans, which is his most personal film to date. 

We know for a long time that Steven Spielberg has a love without measure since his childhood for the cinema and a thirst without end to realize films that it is during his adolescence and in a artisanal way or by integrating a big Hollywood studios as Universal Pictures for which he realized his first film Duel which was first diffused on the television on the channel ABC before knowing a new version intended for the cinema (the original version was prolonged to satisfy the requirements of a release in the cinema). 

The numerous blockbusters he directed from the phenomenal Jaws (1975) to the most recent Ready Player One (2018) have shown him to be a gifted visionary capable of revolutionizing cinema and pushing technology to its limits. Far from directing only blockbusters, this director took the time to conceive films that were close to his heart and more personal, such as the unforgettable Schindler list (1993), Saving private Ryan (1998), War Horse (2011). His new film The Fabelmans can be seen as a true love letter to cinema and how from his childhood despite family worries he found refuge as a spectator and then director in the cinema.

The first thing that stands out in The Fabelmans is Steven Spielberg's refusal to go for a blockbuster retracing a part of the history of the United States at the same time as his alter ego, the young Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) has to face many difficulties, both family and integration.  From the very beginning of the film, the stage is set and we discover the young Sammy Fabelman who fell madly in love with cinema after his parents took him to see The Greatest Show on Earth. Armed with his first camera, Sammy begins to make his own films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother and his father who sees his passion as a barrier to a better paying job and a real professional career. We follow the journey of this young film enthusiast who is the image of the director himself. 

If The Fabelmans works so well, it's because we find in Steven Spielberg's screenplay, Tony Kushner's real life moments of this gifted director. Even if the film only deals with the adolescence of his character, this film proves to be fascinating for its different levels of reading, for its perfectly mastered link between the impact of the cinema on the spectators but also the professionals of the trade. To discover the Fabelmans is to understand to what extent Steven Spielberg's past has been a source of inspiration for many of his films and his revenge on the many injustices he had to suffer as a child. Whether it's the anguish of separation from his parents, his redemption through film, or his uncertainty about his religious orientation and cultural identity, each of the issues addressed by this film proves fascinating.

For those of us who are marked for life by one of his masterpieces, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, this film will ring a bell and remind us how much this visionary director put into his personal haunts and inspirations to build timeless and unforgettable works. The Fabelmans, even if it did not have the career it deserved in the United States and its late release in France will hardly help this film to have the success it deserves, is a new masterpiece of Steven Spielberg, an unforgettable film to see again and again.

The Fabelmans
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner
Produced by Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner
Starring Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle, Judd Hirsch
Cinematography: Janusz KamiƄski
Edited by Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar
Music by John Williams
Production companies: Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates : September 10, 2022 (TIFF), November 11, 2022 (United States), February 22, 2023 (France)
Running time : 151 minutes

Seen on December 21, 2022 at the Forum des images room 300

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