The Fabelmans (2022)
November 29, 2022 5:00 AM - Subscribe

Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.
posted by octothorpe (9 comments total)
I was really looking forward to this but it really blew away all of those expectations. This is by far Spielberg's most personal film and there's no intellectual remove here, he's really pored his heart into it. It's about a stand-in for himself as a child but it's really more about his parents and especially his mother. Michelle Williams deserves all the awards as his mother struggling against the constraints of 1950s suburban America.

This is really my favorite movie of the year, maybe the last few years.
posted by octothorpe at 11:39 AM on December 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

What is the corniness quotient? I've been wavering.
posted by praemunire at 12:22 PM on December 1, 2022

There's not an ounce of cynicism in this film but I wouldn't call it corny.
posted by octothorpe at 3:06 PM on December 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm not quite as high on it as octothorpe, but I did find it highly enjoyable and one of the year's best.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:25 AM on January 18, 2023

I really loved the nuance in this movie. Instead of dull broad strokes of moralism, every character is really nuanced, especially within the family dynamic. I also really liked how his relationship with his classmates develops, again, in a nuanced and interesting way.

It's a very emotional movie, but not corny. I think the nuance in the emotion brings it back from corniness.
posted by bearette at 7:40 AM on January 23, 2023

"Autobiographical film about the filmmaker's parents' divorce and the wonder of cinema" sounds like the worst thing I could imagine, so I was surprised by how much I liked this. Above all, I liked that the movie was genuinely funny all the way through. (The switch from Sammy being inconsolable over his gf breaking up with him, to the part where he sheepishly admitted to his mother that he'd proposed marriage, to his mother's response -- "poor girl" -- was just perfect.)

The parental relationships were fascinating, and strikingly generous -- even to the homewrecking Seth Rogen character! (I suppose the early scenes made it clear that Bennie was less a homewrecker than an essential part of making the Fabelman marriage work, but I cannot imagine how many years it would take for me to "forgive" a new step-parent in that scenario. I guess 50-60 years seems right.)

Apparently the monkey was real!
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:50 PM on January 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

Well done but pretty humdrum. Though I am glad the movie does not really get into a nostalgia fetishization mode like most any movie would. It is not going LOOK AT IT.... SOAK IN IT!!

lol stepping into that big craftsman like, "What a dump!"

I hope his sisters get their movie that centers a woman outta him.

The ending is fun.

Reading articles about how much is "true". It's interesting that IRL he was estranged from his father for decades. It is a nice wishful caring glance back. At the same time, it's also interesting that his real crisis of film-making didn't come from family stuff, it came from being intimidated by Lawrence of Arabia. When I read the second one I was like, "Yeah that sounds more like Spielberg."

Also, Jeet Heer had a very Jeet Heer-like twitter thread about movie.
posted by fleacircus at 11:15 PM on February 16, 2023

I was thinking about this more today. The thing I've always admired about Spielberg's like early core movies is how he shows familes -- especially ET and Poltergeist (which I count as a Spielberg movie; "my 'I did not direct Poltergeist' t-shirt is raising a lot of questions answered by my t-shirt") -- but it even works in like Jaws. You can feel the fractures, but you can also feel love and solidity. Even though it's never his focus, and he doesn't usually develop them further, he establishes genuine-feeling people in families way better than movies that are supposedly about people and families.

And after watching this movie I think it's because he had a cool mom, and cool sisters!

Also I was thinking what this movie has to say about art is kind of muddled, until I realized it's not talking about art, it's talking about craft, and especially about the monomaniacal devotion to one's craft... Not quite the same as art! But a better thing to call the hole one climbs into that was made for you.
posted by fleacircus at 6:42 PM on February 17, 2023

Just saw this and really enjoyed it!

Tony Kushner on The Fabelmans, His Friendship with Steven Spielberg, and Casting David Lynch [The Film Stage]
posted by ellieBOA at 1:30 PM on April 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

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