‘The Fabelmans’ brings magic back to the silver screen

Steven Spielberg’s vulnerable, introspective new film exemplifies what cinema is all about.


Courtesy of Wikipedia

“The Fablemans” captures family relationships magically, writes Ally Werstler.

Ally Werstler, Staff Writer

Featuring a quirky Jewish family and their son who yearns to find his place in the world, Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans” resonates with every big dreamer. “The Fabelmans” is the newest film to come from Spielberg — one of the most influential and successful directors from the past 50 years.

Spielberg’s filmography, including pictures like “Jurassic Park,” “Jaws,” “Schindler’s List” and my favorite movie of all time, “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark,” demonstrates his mastery of every genre and thus his ability to touch the hearts of countless viewers.

Being the innovative director that he is, Spielberg has come out with another classic in 2022. This time, instead of his typical blockbuster, grandiose feature with a killer shark or extraterrestrial being, the audience gets a look into Spielberg’s own adolescence. This magnum opus tells us that life is difficult, but how one deals with such experiences leads to one’s downfall or success.

This film is incredibly versatile in terms of audience relatability, as anyone who has been misunderstood, experienced discrimination or been impacted by divorce will likely find their viewing experience to be validating. Interestingly enough, in a recent CBS Sunday Morning interview, Spielberg revealed that “The Fabelmans” not only allowed him to reflect on his career but also served as a form of personal therapy.

A specific element of the film that contributed to the former claim is Spielberg’s tackling of anti-Semitism — an issue too often overlooked. “The Fabelmans” portrays anti-Semitism in a raw manner that aids in Sammy Fabelman’s character development and contributes to the overall realness of the film. American Jewish culture is also celebrated, which makes me, a Jew, feel seen. I have never witnessed such a beautiful and truthful depiction of my culture shown on the silver screen.

Sammy Fabelman’s epic journey begins with the seven-year-old boy seeing his first motion picture with his mother and father. The movie he sees, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” ignites his fascination with the art of film, an interest that his mother helps facilitate throughout his adolescence, but his father sees as a hobby rather than a real career.

At the core of “The Fabelmans” is the parent-child relationship — a phenomenon that is beautifully portrayed by Michelle Williams and Paul Dano.

If, as rumor has it, Williams will be nominated for best actress at the Oscars, it is well earned. She does a fantastic job of embodying the role of a whimsy and loving mother. Totally opposite to his wife is Sammy Fabelman’s dad, a nerdy and literal role that is entrusted to the incredibly talented Dano.

In addition to these established actors is newcomer Gabrielle LaBelle, who portrays teenage Sammy Fabelman. LaBelle’s talent shines as he does a perfect job encapsulating the energy of a young Spielberg — the awkward kid with a love of film.

“The Fabelmans” also features the acting talents of Judd Hirsch, Julia Butters, David Lynch and Seth Rogen, all of whom demonstrate great acting abilities.

In addition to these wonderful performances is the gorgeous cinematography from Janusz Kamiński, who allows for the smallest of gestures to create an emotional punch. One powerful moment is in the middle of the film, when Sammy Fabelman’s mother pretends to be a ballerina on a camping trip.

In this scene, the bright car lights shining through her white, silk dress coupled with the whimsical forest setting and organic movements of the camera perfectly demonstrate her depression. This scene truly took my breath away, and I will never forget the waterfall of emotions that ensued while first laying my eyes upon this masterpiece that is “The Fabelmans.”

“The Fabelmans” is a true triumph on all fronts. Spielberg’s blend of masterful directing, the cast’s outstanding performances, the beautiful cinematography and the emotionally resonant story all work together to create one of the best movies of 2022.

Regardless of your opinion of Spielberg’s previous works, I would implore you to take a chance on this once-in-a-lifetime film that is unlike anything the director has ever made. “The Fabelmans” reminds us why movies are truly magical, and for that, Steven Spielberg, I am eternally grateful to you.

Final Score: 10/10

Correction Jan. 18: The story was edited to reflect that Michelle Williams has not been nominated for an Oscar.