At the 2022 Golden Globes The Fabelmans won Best Drama and Steven Spielberg won best director. Personally, I could not give less of a fuck about award shows and in particular the Golden Globes (I think that’s most people now anyway). Nevertheless, I think these results have a lot of people who are curious about this film. And since it was only just released in Australia, there is a huge market still waiting to be won over. So the ultimate question becomes did The Fabelmans deserve these awards or is it over hyped?
The Fabelmans is a drama/ coming of age that is based on the life of Steven Spielberg. It follows Sammy Fabelman as he falls in love with movies and struggles with his family and high school.
Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg have written a beautiful script. From beginning to end, I was glued to the screen. Since this is based on Spielberg’s early life, it adds a depth to these characters that a lot of family dramas are missing. As a result, it never felt like the movie slowed down. The pacing worked so well because of how layered these characters were.
The Fabelmans starts of as a straightforward Spielberg movie. But about halfway through, it transforms into a 50s style high school drama. The student characters became cliches and its even shot similar to Rebel without a Cause. Maybe I am on my own here but this sudden change in the style and tone kind of shocked me. I loved this aesthetic and allusion but just wished it really committed to it from the beginning.
What I did love about this film was the passion for filmmaking. Every scene that involved a camera reminded me why I love what I do – the desire for storytelling. Spielberg has such a deep and profound love for stories that he effectively imparts upon the audience. The scenes of him creating shorts as a kid and showing his family was some of the most relatable film content I have ever seen. I walked away from The Fablemans more motivated to make short films then I ever have before.
The performances in the Fabelmans were a little underwhelming. I loved Gabriel Labelle as Sammy Fabelman and Paul Dano as his father but everyone else felt kind of miscast. It’s not that they were bad I just think everyone seemed to be doing different things that tonally felt off. For example, Seth Rogen was doing Seth Rogen while Michelle Williams was trying to audition for Marriage Story. It made me feel a little lost in these characters and the tone of the movie.
I won’t spoil the end scene of the movie, but it is easily the best part of the film. In particular, the performances by Gabrielle Labelle and David Lynch. These two reminded me how excited I am for the rest of my filmmaking journey – something that is often clouded in negativity. That final shot displays clearly why Spielberg is one of the greatest American filmmakers ever. It so eloquently summarises the core themes of this film and perhaps his career – his love for stories.
Ultimately, I liked The Fabelmans. While it isn’t my favourite movie of the year, it was still extremely enjoyable. I think Spielberg did deserve those awards. Not only for his career achievements but also the bravery to be this personal with a movie in a way he never has before. Now all we need is a sequel that dives into his early years making movies.
Should you see The Fabelmans?
Simply for the fact that this may be Spielberg’s last movie, I would definitely go see this in cinemas. While it follows a predictable plot, the writing and directing are still beautifully crafted and well worth your time. If you are into filmmaking whatsoever you will definitely like this movie.