Hello movie fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review another Oscar nominated film. This time I watched The Fabelmans, a semi-autobiographical coming of age film by the one and only Steven Spielberg. There will be some spoilers in this review so if that sort of thing bothers you, grab yourself some popcorn, go watch the movie and come on back to read the review.
The story of The Fabelmans centers around a young Jewish boy named Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle) and his love of film. The movie starts off with a very young Sammy being taken to see his first movie. He’s a bit scared to go but his father patiently explains the technical aspects of film while his mother talks about how magical the experience will be. In the theater, Sammy watches The Greatest Show on Earth. Sammy is instantly enthralled and becomes obsessed with trying to recreate one of the scenes from the film.
It’s clear from early on that Sammy has a genuine gift for filmmaking. He’s encouraged by his mother and his father appreciates what Sammy does. Sammy’s father, however, does think it’s just a phase before Sammy moves onto doing something practical like engineering.
We see Sammy grow up into a teenager and it seems the one constant for him is film. His family has a shift in dynamic as it becomes clear his mother and father are not happily married at this point. Film seems to be a bit of a mixed blessing for Sammy for a while. The Fabelmans move to California and things get even more difficult as Sammy is one of the few Jewish kids at his high school. He finds a bit of romance and he continues making movies.
The film deals with a lot of personal struggle and turmoil. It also explores topics of art and creativity and trying to find some meaning in the world as you grow up. More than any other film I’ve watched so far for the Oscar nominees, this one understands film. Steven Spielberg knows that film is not just about spectacle. It’s about capturing small moments of personal stories to tell us a larger story. Sure, special effects are nice to have, but that’s not the only thing required to tell a good story.
Watching The Fabelmans gives any cinephile the same feeling we had the first time we walked into a theater. It’s downright magical. The difference is that most of us just continue to watch movies while Sammy realizes he needs to make movies. And while this is a fictionalized version, it’s obvious a lot of Steven Spielberg comes through in this character.
So far, out of all the movies I’ve seen for the Oscars this year, this one seems the most deserving to me. It’s able to transport the audience in a way other films haven’t. I will admit I am a little bit biased here as I am a sucker for movies about movies but I think anyone watching this will not be able to deny how skilled a storyteller Spielberg is.
If you love coming of age movies, movies about movies, or films that tell a personal story about art and creativity, this one is a must watch.