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The Fabelmans captures a wondrous look behind the lens

Movie Review by Austin Frape

Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) aspires to become a filmmaker. As he learns how the power of films can help him see the truth, Sammy discovers a shattering family secret with his father, Burt (Paul Dano), mother Mitzy (Michelle Williams), and family friend Bennie (Seth Rogen).

There’s hardly a name in filmmaking that holds so much weight and influence as Steven Spielberg. Not only has he made some of the most iconic films of all time (Jaws, Jurassic ParkIndiana Jones, ET), he continues to bring out more stories for modern audiences, even if some don’t quite reach the standards he once brought to the table. In his latest, The Fabelmans, Spielberg brings us an incredibly engaging coming-of-age story and a semi-autobiographical look at his childhood. Taking place during Sammy Fabelman’s early years in a very loose and stream-of-consciousness structure, the movie perfectly depicts the fun and wonder of indulging childhood make-believe with friends, with fantastic production design and, through Fabelman’s adventures into film, the development of cameras during the 50s and 60s.

The family dynamic of the titular Fabelmans has more focus than expected, especially with the Jewish heritage, while never feeling overdramatic or schmultzy. With an admittedly long running time at two-and-a-half hours, we get to see the family grow and change, and how the filmmaking aspect brings out the best and worst. The cast are quite excellent in their roles, especially Williams, bringing a very complex look at motherhood. LaBelle manages very well in the lead role. Hopefully Spielberg saw a lot of himself in LaBelle’s performance! 

The ending not only ties everything together perfectly, there’s an incredibly unexpected and hilariously wonderful cameo that is worth the price of admission alone.

Overall, The Fabelmans is a very earnest and captivating take on childhood, family life and the exploration of creativity. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, or you’re looking for something else to watch aside from Avatar: The Way of Water, I can certainly recommend The Fabelmans

Join The Fabelmans in Australian cinemas on January 5.