Loosely based on the life of reclaimed director Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans follows the story of Sammy (Mateo Zoryan and Gabriel LaBelle) as he grows up in a post Second World War era with his parents Mitzi (Michelle Williams) and Burt (Paul Dano), as well as his sisters. From witnessing a train crashing into a car on his first visit to the cinema, Sammy couldn’t help but wonder why this was and wanted to take control of the situation. After learning to use a camera, the films he creates enables him to understand not only his upbringing, but also the family secrets he never realized were there before.
I wanted to enjoy The Fabelmans so much more than I actually did. Where I will say it excelled in was its performances. Williams was the star here. If she doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for this, then I don’t know anything anymore. Her portrayal of Mitzi Fabelman was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I was also impressed with Dano as the family patriarch. He complimented Williams nicely and it was awesome to see him in something different. The surprise for me, however, was with Seth Rogen. I’m used to him playing the goofy, comical character, so I appreciated this more serious tone.
Although it was interesting to see how Spielberg got his start in making movies, I have to admit that I found the whole idea to be kind of self indulgent. This may be an unpopular opinion and while I understand that it wasn’t an exact retelling of what happened, the fact that he felt the need to tell it at all, especially now, didn’t feel necessary to me. Perhaps later in the future would have fared better. That seems to work well with most biopics.
Another reason why The Fabelmans did not entirely land for me was in its pacing. It was incredibly slow and struggled to go anywhere. The fact that the film was more character driven than anything else definitely played a part in that, but I wasn’t a fan of it this time around. It’s as if I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never really did. I’m still glad that I took the time to check this out since it has been sweeping at various awards ceremonies. I guess it just wasn’t for me.