The Fabelmans

A coming-of-age story about a young man’s discovery of a shattering family secret and an exploration of the power of movies to help us see the truth about each other and ourselves.

  • Released: 2022-11-11
  • Runtime: 151 minutes
  • Genre: Drama
  • Stars: Gabriel LaBelle, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Julia Butters, Judd Hirsch, Jeannie Berlin, Robin Bartlett, Oakes Fegley, Chloe East, Gabriel Bateman, Art Bonilla, Jonathan Hadary, Sam Rechner, Isabelle Kusman, Keeley Karsten, Sophia Kopera, Greg Grunberg, James Urbaniak, Lane Factor, Meredith VanCuyk
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • miker-40119 - 13 January 2023
    One of the best movies of the year
    This is such a broadly entertaining film that even though It can veer into sentimentality at times early on, it's easy to see how personal this was for Spielberg. It's an honesty portrayal of his family life and clearly shows how much movies captivated him from a young age. The film is tender, funny and deeply human. It's filled with great performances that I especially loved from Paul Dano and Gabriel LaBelle. Spielberg is a true master and this fine film stacks up with his best. Definitely one of the best movies of the year already and one of the best that I've seen in a long time in general.
  • CinemaClown - 13 January 2023
    GOAT Just GOATing
    From the greatest filmmaker of all time comes a semi-autobiographical account that at long last gives his fans & followers a fascinating insight into his origins & the essential events that shaped him as the creative powerhouse that we all know & celebrate today. Crafted with enormous care, told with unfailing precision and exhibiting first-rate execution on all fronts, The Fabelmans is yet another masterpiece from the master storyteller.

    Co-written & directed by Steven Spielberg, the film presents the esteemed filmmaker mustering enough courage to put up his vulnerable side on screen for others to look at & reflect upon. It is an incredibly intimate & personal effort and yet, there isn't any shortage of cinematic bravura & filmmaking ingenuity on display here. Also, despite the poignance & critical eye, it brims with all the awe, warmth & wonder that makes his works so profound & comforting.

    Apart from serving as a gripping coming-of-age drama, the film explores the power of cinema, its ability to evoke memories, expose truths in them as they are and also offer refuge when the harsh realities of life become overwhelming. Tony Kushner's splendid script, Janusz Kaminski's impeccable cinematography, Michael Kahn's tight editing & John Williams' touching score also conjure pure magic while sincere, nuanced performances from the cast keep us invested in the picture.

    Overall, The Fabelmans is one of the best all-round films of the year that makes for a beautiful ode to cinema, a powerfully moving memoir, a captivating coming-of-age story & a compelling family drama all at once, and ranks right up there with Spielberg's finest directorial efforts. It is light & unassuming on surface but never in a way that conceals its emotional complexity & in-depth layers. A fitting end to a legendary director-composer collaboration, Spielberg's latest is two GOATs just GOATing together one last time.
  • tm-sheehan - 13 January 2023
    Deceptively Simple from a Master Film Maker
    My Review- The Fablemans My Rating 10/10

    The Fablemans begins in the Cinema with an appreciation from Stephen Spielberg its Director co writer and the character that Sammy Fableman is based on.

    He thanks the audience for coming out to watch his movie on the Cinema screen the way it was meant to be seen.

    Apparently judging by the World Box Office so far Cinema audiences are staying away in droves.

    I cannot answer why and only hope that the films recent Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Spielberg plus the AFI choice as Best Picture of the year will encourage film goers to see this fine movie at the Cinema.

    If the films critical success is repeated at The Oscars it could mean 2 more Academy Awards to add to Steven Spielberg's three well deserved wins.

    The Fablemans is a deceptively simple story closely mirroring the actual life experiences of Steven Spielberg's young life growing up in a privileged Jewish home in Phoenix Arizona . It obviously was a labour of love and some pain that Stephen Spielberg and the great Tony Kushner completed during the Covid pandemic and the making of his Oscar nominated West Side Story.

    Lovers of Cinema and the process of making movies like myself I'm sure will love The Fablemans because it's been made by one of the greatest movie makers of all time.

    When I say it's deceptively simple I mean that it has no gimmicks and doesn't try to be clever . It's what I love most in movies an interesting story with a fine script plus some great performances and great production values .

    Young Gabriel LaBelle is so impressive as Sammy Fableman and throughly deserved the praise that Steven Spielberg paid him at The Golden Globes this week.

    His acting especially in the pivotal scene where Sonny discovers his innocent home movie of a family camping trip reveals much more about his much loved and supportive mother Mitzi than he expected .

    Another wonderful moment for me is Sammy's reaction to seeing his first movie Cecil B DeMill's The Greatest Show on Earth made in 1952 during a family outing to a local Cinema . The movie is showing to a full house to an audience that's captivated by another great film spectacular movie.

    It took me back to my childhood when my Dad was a projectionist at Brighton Le Sands when I was the same age as young Sammy.

    I'm always impressed with Michelle Williams and she excels in The Fablemans cast as Sonny's mother Mitzi Fableman , Mitzi is a talented sensitive woman who gave up a possible career as a concert pianist to marry a pleasant but dull and nerdy computer expert.

    Michelle Williams captures the affection of a mother who adores her son and family plus the vulnerability and fragility when circumstances occur to change the dynamics of the Fableman's family forever.

    Paul Dano as Burt Fableman who provides well for his family is also impressive as is Seth Rogan as his best friend Benny .

    Burt takes a better job and moves his family to California where Sammy sadly discovers Antisemitism and bullying for the first time in his young life.

    Veteran actor Judd Hirsh as Uncle Boris gives a supporting role worthy of an Oscar nomination when he turns up on the doorstep for his sisters funeral much to Mitzi's horror .

    He spots the passion and talent of young Sonny and encourages him not to compromise in his quest to make movies .

    The attention to detail by the Spielberg team captures the 1960's perfectly I noticed even a subtle homage to the past history of movies with a Cinerama movie theatre featured in the background Cinerama was a widescreen process that originally projected images simultaneously from three synchronized 35mm projectors onto a huge, deeply curved I remember The Spanish style Plaza Cinerama theatre in Sydney that now has been gutted and turned into a McDonalds store.

    John Williams Spielberg's regular composer has created another beautiful musical score for this fine movie.

    I've seen The Fablemans twice now and will watch it again as it's a film like my favourite film about the love of movies Cinema Paradiso that I get more out of each viewing but please see it at a Cinema before it streams the detail in sets props and costumes is amazing.
  • htwhyppe-5 - 12 January 2023
    This is a two and half hour motion selfie
    I'm a big fan of "Munich"; I thought it was powerful and dynamic. In its way it helped ameliorate the horrors of the '72 Olympics, as if anything could. It also brought us Eric Bana who is a great find if you ask me. I also thought well of "Empire of the Sun", largely because of the cast, particularly John Malkovich who can do no wrong. But this, this mush of a movie should have stayed locked away in memory. No need to traipse all the dirty laundry out for the world to see. What's the value of that? I really don't get it. Was Spielberg tired of being accused of never doing anything personal? Well, this more than makes up for that. And I'm unclear, despite its two and half hour length, did his mother get the help she clearly needed (at least through the lens of Spielberg et al.)? I also liked Jaws and will watch it again every time it's on tv. But I won't watch this again. E.ver.
  • DrD3 - 12 January 2023
    Forget the Fables
    This is certainly not a stellar performance from Spielberg, as some of his dire supporters suggest. Just because it has Spielberg's name attached to it and supposedly chronicles his life, doesn't mean it will translate well onto the screen. It's unfortunate that Michelle Williams lent her name to this project as she has a decent previous resume. This movie is too long and too tedious and too dull. It also shamelessly has scenes of anti-Christianite behaviour with overtly tiresome tropes on Catholicism. It's hard to imagine that someone who gave us "Jaws" would stoop to such depravity and utter nonsense.
  • gabriutkuel - 12 January 2023
    Master did it!
    His name always meant something for me. I am a huge fan of his and I have been a collector of his movies for a long time. I adore the way he directs and tells a story. You can always find the same unique taste in his movies.

    I feel that having this coming of age film, depends on his own real life, from him is a phenomenal chance for me. Especially being able to watch it at the cinemas, where movies are supposed to be seen! Seeing frames from his childhood with this amazing cast was indescribably amazing.

    Michelle Williams, my lover in every movie she acts in, was always sparkling with her amazing acting skills. Paul Dano has gotten better and better from the first movie I've watched of him throughout the years. He's become a real hollywood star for me. And speaking of stars, I feel like saying this, no one but Gabriel LaBelle could have fit into this role more than him. I am perfectly sure he's put so much effort onto this role and all that perfectly paid off. He looks amazing, he sounds, acts amazing! Without a doubt Spielberg felt so proud of him. I hope LaBelle has a bright future in this business and he never stops because I know that he'll be the rising star. I appreciate Spielberg so much for giving this chance to him.

    The colour grade is remarkable, not the one Spielberg always uses but for this exact film it worked out so well. I'd had a worry that the aspect ratio would be classic wide 2.39 : 1 but when the movie started and I saw 1.85 : 1 was chosen, I was more excited than ever because I'd really wanted to watch this speacial piece of art on a full screen.

    Long story short, I adore this film. It made me think so much about my life, about his life and everything. Definitely one of my favorite movies at all times. I can't wait to own a poster and of course a bluray copy.

    That's was it :)
  • michaeltalacha - 11 January 2023
    Great directorial work, but sometimes too personal plot
    Spielberg made a fairly beautiful film, part of which just didn't interest me. In particular, I mean the story arc with the family and mother. Such a personal story may be interesting to the author, but not to the viewer. In this part of the film, I lacked involvement, I did not immerse myself in the film, the person next to me categorically fell asleep. But everything changes when a school appears. Lively characters, good humor - this is how this part can be characterized. It would seem that the plot is simple, but the dialogues and emotions, as well as some kind of childish naivety deserve praise. The last scene with Ford and Lynch's cameo also raise the film's rating. I would put 6.5 but imdb does not give such an opportunity. Worth watching.
  • noribori - 11 January 2023
    Connecting the dots
    The first half is a film full of personal anecdotes strung together like pearls on a necklace. As Steve Jobs said: You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward. These anecdotes seem to lead to the only possible conclusion, how inevitably the protagonist would become a great director. But actually Spielberg wants to tell us that this wasn't natural at all. The focus of this part is his mother, her way of living her life as a dream will allow him to follow his own dream. His father is not the antagonist, but is only presented as a complementary force. And while we see how his parents eventually separate, we can already understand how he brings them together in his later films, combining his mother's visionary power with his father's technical finesse.

    The second half is a long anecdote that expands into a story and eventually a reflection on filmmaking itself. It revolves around the experience of being Jewish and an outsider. Here we have an antagonist, split into two characters: a sociopath who is vilified, and an insecure and immature person who experiences some redemption. But there is also his first love who is somewhat antagonistic, she is presented in a very light and funny way, showing us how wit and disarming charm can also be ways to handle a controversial subject. These are the three pillars of his cinematic art: to vilify, to redeem, to charm. He shows them as personified types, but we can also ask ourselves how these means of his art have helped to shape this portrait of his parents.

    A special bow to Michelle Williams, without her outstanding performance this film would not be possible.
  • dwbell - 10 January 2023
    Oi Va Voy!
    A bloated, lazy and ultimately tedious self-indulgence that assumes that the viewer will care about its characters and story as much as it's director and writer. It's a problem shared with Branagh's Belfast and the French film Mr Bojangles. The film doesn't earn its climaxes as we are not invested in the character's journies, trials and travails. Spielberg and Kushner (who have both made terrific works in the past) here rely on over-used stereotypes (Brisket, anyone?, High school jocks and nerds) that deliver little payoff. What, ultimately, is the lesson learned from the bullet-headed uncle sleeping Shiva? It doesn't seem to impact the character of our hero at all. And everything takes so long (dancing in the firelight on the camping trip, viewing and reviewing the film of the 'hidden' moments of the camping trip etc). The actors are working hard because they are in a big, personal film by Spielber. It doesn't pay off. Michelle Williams seems to be channeling Shirley McLean, Judd Hirsh is doing his best Mel Brooks (if only!), Paul Dano has only been given one note to play by Spielberg and Kushner. The film is way too long, has no energy and wouldn't inspire anyone to take up film-making or any other creative pursuit. It may be based on Mr Spielberg's life, but perhaps he should have left it to someone else to make the movie version. Dull, dull, dull.
  • waltermwilliams - 10 January 2023
    What Walt's Watching
    Movies are dreams and as a teenager I wanted to make movies on a Super 8 Camera I convinced my dad to buy for me just like Steven Spielberg.

    However, my dreams of movie making didn't get as far as Spielbergs.

    After producing a few short films with like minded friends living in Sydney suburbia and attempting to get grants and study at AFTRS my dreams turned to Radio, mainly because it was an easy, natural progression for me, but I never lost my passion for filmmaking.

    "The Fablemans" director and co-screenwriter Steven pursued his dreams and it's the nucleus of those early days that this movie focuses on while using a fake family name, although both Spiel and Fable mean story.

    Michelle Williams plays the artistic, piano playing mum "Mitzi" (whose costumes and jewellery are all literally from the Spielberg playbook of his real mum).

    Paul Dano meanwhile is his more mechanically/technically minded dad "Burt" who also supports his sons movie making dreams in a different way.

    While Gabriel LaBelle plays teenage "Sam" in this coming of age story.

    A story I can personally relate to on so many levels, even down to both our parents divorce.

    It's the movie some of us have been waiting 45 years for Spielberg to make.

    Seth Rogen as "Uncle Bennie" is the one piece of this puzzle that doesn't fit with his annoying, nervous laugh.

    It's a pivotal role to this story arc though.

    Steven Spielberg once said, "The bigger we dream the more we can expect to achieve".

    "The Fablemans" is his story made by himself in his own lifetime and only able to fully be told after the deaths of both his parents, due to sensitive subject matter.

    What was the first film you saw in cinemas that made you fall in love with movies?

    For me it was "Mary Poppins" closely followed by "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".

  • patelnilay-61270 - 10 January 2023
    A really "interesting" movie that gives you a perspective in spielberg's own life
    I'll be honest, this is not exactly a review but my own personal experience with the movie. The movie is about spielberg's motivation about making the movies & simultaneously a portrail of his family's disintegration. For what it's worth, the movie is well made with descent acting for the most part. Especially the father's character is the stand out. Maybe we are not supposed to dissect the plot too much, but the movie is supposed to be about spielberg afterall! The whole point is to find the motivation behind speilberg's obsession with making movies. (At least I didn't know) Apparantly it's because he always saw movie making as a coping mechanism from the horrors of his own life! So here are my observations:

    The movie depicts how unstable the family is right from the beginning. We have the father's bestfriend character who is very close to the family, and especially the mother. Everyone is almost oblivious of this fact other than the grandma. Then the tragedy stucks (grandma's death) and the mother's character almost descends to madness. She literally drives a car into a tornado with her kids inside. Her escape from all of this? Infidelity. When the father gets a new opportunity in a different state, they all move together including the "friend" of the father. When the son (spielberg) figures out what is going on because of what he ended up recording on his tape, he confronts the mother. The mother does show signs to make things right & the family again moves to a different state because of the father's new job opportunity. Now the mother didn't want to leave the friend behind (because the obvious reasons) But they agree to move once the mother finds out that their son knows what's going on. Now it's interpreted in the movie that the mother never actually loved the father or have fallen out of love ever since & now loves the friend character instead. And what's baffeling is that she's apparently going crazy: she tries getting into therapy but it doesn't work. She gets a monkey & names it after the character she was cheating with. The family eventually splits up & mother takes all the children exept steven with her. While steven is left with the father. There are so many problems here like how everything gets sorted out ones she goes back to the character she was cheating with!

    There's so much wrong with this plot, especially how a character who is unfaithful (for whatsoever reason) gets away with it. The movie has a problematic line: You don't owe your life to anyone. Yes you do. To your family. And this perticular statement comes into a bad light with the infidelity: the mother decided to be with someone else while still being married because she thought that it's okay as long as it's what your heart wants.

    Now my most interesting observation after watching the movie. This is something I didn't know about spielberg before watching this movie. (This information is not given in the movie itself): he had an affair with future wife Kate Capshaw while still being married to his first wife. Infidelity ruins families, he knew from his own experience but he did it anyways in real life! Maybe he feels guilty (I hope as a fan of his movies) And maybe this movie is supposed to show that truth to his audience.

    But, the movie ends with a credit "For Leah". That certainly was baffeling to me. His father deserves recognition for trying to save his family, not the mother who was unfaithful (while she was still married & not divorced). Maybe the point of the movie was to make us dislike the mother's character. Because I certainly did.

    PS - I lowered my score for the movie after learning about speilberg's own afffairs & I'm gonna be unapologetic about it.
  • Samual-M - 10 January 2023
    Steven Spielberg is a great director. But what does that mean? For me, it's more than choosing camera setups. To me, it starts with producing and having a vision. Spielberg digs deep into his memory to facilitate a story worthy of the big screen with the help of a great co-writer in Tony Kushner.

    The film flowed smoothly from scene to scene, sequence to sequence. You really get a sense of what it must've been like to live in such a precarious environment for the young Spielberg.

    The ending was superb. Having David Lynch portray John Ford was a treat as well as Spielbergs recollection of the horizon anecdote.

    (That final shot was very clever.)

    At two hours & twenty-three minutes, the story felt like it was just beginning but we have more than a hint of how it ended up for the newcomer Sammy Fabelman.

    The only thing this film suffered from was a horribly cut trailer that didn't provoke any interest from me. I went on to watch because it's one of the greatest filmmakers living & was glad that he did not disappoint.

    I really hope the team that crafted this film wins some awards for executing such a strong film.

    Mazel tov, Mr. Spielberg!
  • Quantillus - 10 January 2023
    Everything has lead up to this. Spielberg has truly mastered his art and it all culminates in this latest masterpiece. I went into this movie without prior knowledge of the premise, without trailers, and I am so glad that I did because it truly felt magical when the penny dropped that it was about the name-swapped Spielberg family. If this was the last ever Spielberg movie, I think I'd be content with it.

    The sheer number of camera techniques on display and behind the curtain looks at how the young Spielberg problem-solved for his early movies is an absolute gift. The special ending wrapped all of that up in a satisfying bow that I think I'll remember for the rest of my days.

    I honestly feel that this movie wasn't understood by the people who gave it negative/mediocre reviews, and I think it's quite sad that they just don't understand what this movie really is.
  • gbill-74877 - 10 January 2023
    Deeply personal work for Spielberg
    As Radio Days is to Woody Allen and Fanny and Alexander is to Ingmar Bergman, so is The Fabelmans to Steven Spielberg. It includes a sentimental look back on his early passion for making amateur movies, staring with his first film crashing a train set and ending with his meeting with John Ford, events which served as bookends in his development here. The film also includes what I imagine was a cathartic release of the difficulties he went through with his parents' relationship (discovering infidelity, moving because of it, and then seeing them divorce), and the bullying rooted in anti-Semitism he faced in high school. Seeing his origin story from his perspective always held my interest, and there is a level of vulnerability on display here which I appreciated.

    I can't say I truly loved the film, however. I don't doubt that these events happened in his life, but the way many of them are portrayed had a sheen of glossiness which took away from the sense of realism. Not all of them, mind you - that scene with John Ford felt very authentic, and was wonderful. But too often the rest of it seemed carefully packaged, slipped too easily into being maudlin, and had characters speaking in ways that didn't seem real. In Spielberg's mind this is probably how he sees these people from his early life and it's certainly deeply personal to him, but it may have been a better film had it been written and made by someone else.