The Fabelmans (2022)

In post-World War II Arizona, we follow Sammy Fabelman. Seeing his first film on the big screen births a desire in him to be creative and make movies. As time passes, Sammy’s passion becomes more prominent, and he is soon making films with his friends and investing money into a splicing kit, blank film, and other equipment.

When it comes to Sammy’s life at home, things are complex. His father, Burt (Paul Dano), feels Sammy’s interests are nothing but a hobby, claiming his son is just wasting his time and money and would be better off focusing on gaining a better education. Sammy’s mother, Mitzi (Michelle Williams), is more supportive of her son’s interests and becomes both fascinated and impressed by his creative eye behind the camera. However, during a family holiday, Sammy accidentally captures a heartbreaking family secret on camera, putting him in a challenging situation. Over time, tension rises among the family, and Sammy deals with various struggles, including being unsure of how to respond based on his newfound knowledge.

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Mateo Zoryan Francis-DeFord as younger Sammy Fabelman in The Fabelmans, co-written, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg.

For those who are unaware, The Fablemans is based on the childhood and upbringing of the famous director, producer and writer Steven Spielberg. The film gives audiences a raw dramatic look at some of his personal experiences through touching reflections. Some of these experiences include when Spielberg first went to the movies, when he got his first video camera, romances, dealing with bullying, making various films and most importantly, the family dramas that occurred during his life which impacted him greatly.

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The Fabelmans was directed and written by Steven Spielberg, and who better to tell the story of his upbringing than the man himself? I’ll admit I knew nothing about Steven Spielberg’s life and upbringing as a young man. Instantly I found myself fascinated and curious to discover how the famous man we all know in cinema came to be who he is today. The film carries plenty of heart and loads of emotion, but The Fablemans has two key ingredients, the first of which is movie magic. A great example is when we witness Sammy discovering films in a cinema for the first time as a young boy. I found it impossible not to smile through this scene. Everything Sammy discovers and learns about films is heart-warming and joyful to witness. The second key ingredient in this film is drama. The drama here is heavy and sad, so I carried various emotions while viewing it. I went back and forth between joy and feeling heavy-hearted and compassionate for Sammy’s life journey.

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Pacing for the vast majority is great, but I can’t deny that some aspects overstayed their welcome. While I understand the importance of these scenes, certain parts dragged on, such as the bullying that Sammy receives at school and his relationship with a girl who is highly obsessed with religion. I felt both areas could have been trimmed down slightly, giving viewers a snappier pace. Aspects relating to Sammy’s home life and his discovery of his passion for filmmaking are the most entertaining and engaging for audiences to admire. Visually, this film is wonderful and many moments reminded me of some of Spielberg’s past films. The musical score is perfect thanks to composer John Williams who successfully creates gripping and beautiful moments to match the great-looking movie.

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The performances are breathtaking.  Many film critics have claimed that this is the best we’ve seen from actress Michelle Williams, and I would have to agree.  As Sammy’s strict and stern father, Paul Dano is also impressive, as is the supporting role from actor Judd Hirsch.  Lastly, the leading performance from Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy Fabelman is excellent. I felt he wonderfully displayed a massive range of dramatic emotions.

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Overall, this is an emotional ride as we witness the upbringing of the famous director, producer, and writer Stephen Spielberg. I found myself grinning with joy and feeling sad for the vast majority, and it’s hard not to be curious and fascinated by the true story that the film presents. Performances from all the leads are stunning, touching, and impressive. Visually, this film is adorable and creative, and the score by composer John Williams is impacting. Sadly, some themes do overstay their welcome, and if minor edits were made here and there, the pacing could have been a bit tighter. Nevertheless, it’s an incredible film, and I admire Steven Spielberg for sharing his heart and past experiences with the entire world of cinema. The Fabelmans (2022) is Available in Australian Cinemas from January 5th!

9.1/10

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

29th December 2022
Written by Peter Walkden

WALKDEN ENTERTAINMENT

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Our opinion on this feature has also been submitted to Rotton Tomatoes (Audiences Score*).

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Margaret (Rebecca Hall) is living a life that brings fulfilment.  Currently working in the medical industry, she is well respected among peers, and co-workers even approach her for life advice.  Margaret is single, although she occasionally hooks up with a...

Armageddon Time (2022)

Set in the 1980s in Flushing, Queens, we are introduced to Paul (Banks Repeta), who is in the 6th grade at a Public School. We see Paul's classroom, his fellow peers and a teacher filled with frustration trying to get a well-focused classroom. Paul enjoys being...

Incredible But True (2022)

Alain (Alain Chabat) and Marie (Léa Drucker) are a married couple looking to buy a new home. The two find a house that seems perfect in every way possible. However, the real estate agent reveals a deep secret in the home’s basement during the inspection. This secret...

The Woman King (2022)

Based on actual events set in Africa around the 18th century, Agojie is a team of women warriors who protect the Kingdom of Dahomey. These women are highly trained, extraordinarily fierce and will do anything to protect those they serve and the people of Dahomey. The...

Black Adam (2022)

Five thousand years ago in Kahndaq, Egypt, a young slave undergoes a significant transformation. When he encounters the Egyptian gods, they decide to have mercy on him, providing him with superpowers. Eventually, this individual is imprisoned deep underground. In the...

The Wicker Man (1973)

Police Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) receives a letter from an unknown person giving him details about a young girl currently missing on Summerisle, a Scottish island. He decides to travel to Summerisle by plane and investigate the recent disappearance by...

Possession (1981)

Mark (Sam Neill) returns home from work after being absent from his wife, Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and his only son Bob (Michael Hogben), for quite some time. However, Mark's time of peace with his family is short-lived. One day, Mark comes home and finds Anna has left...

I Am Alfred Hitchock (2021)

Focusing on one of the greatest filmmakers in history, this documentary tells the story of a man who didn't just understand filmmaking but helped develop it and became the ultimate master of suspense for his time. I am talking about one of my favourite Directors and...

The Meaning of Life (1983)

Have you ever wondered why you are on Earth? Or perhaps, you've questioned what's your primary purpose and destiny. Let me introduce you to a film that might have the answers you seek- Monty Python's: The Meaning of Life. This film consists of various comedy skits,...

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

As a big fan of the book and the BBC adaption (1995) by the same name, this movie had a lot to live up to. When it first came out, I saw it twice in the cinema as I couldn't decide how I felt about it. Ultimately what won me over was the beautiful soundtrack by Dario...

Project Wolf Hunting (2022)

In 2022, a group of dangerous Korean inmates arrested in the Philippines are going to be transported back to South Korea. But how does one do this safely without risking the inmates trying to escape? The answer? A large cargo ship. The ship is to depart from the...

Everything in Between (2022)

Set in the present day in Sydney, Australia, Jason (Jordan Dulieu) is a teenager suffering and trying to discover his purpose in life. The film opens with Jason attempting to end his life but being saved last minute by a stranger. Soon, Jason finds himself at a...

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (2022)

The film opens with an elderly couple driving on a highway, encountering something unexplained and horrific before disappearing. Twenty-two years later, The Creeper is often spoken of as an urban legend or a myth. Now we are introduced to Laine (Sydney Craven), who is...

Halloween Ends (2022)

Set four years after the events of Halloween Kills, the film again follows Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis). Laurie has significantly changed how she lives her life after the fatal damage and heartbreak caused by Michael Myers. Laurie is now living a life of peace with an...

A Taste of Hunger (2021)

Married couple Maggie (Katrine Greis-Rosenthal) and Carsten (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) have two young children. Life for Maggie and Carsten is hectic as they both run a high-end gourmet restaurant called Malus. From the moment the two first meet, the audience will gain a...

Muru (2022)

Inspired by actual events in New Zealand in 2007, Muru follows Taffy Tawharau (Cliff Curtis), a local Police Sergeant who spends his days helping others. While being a Sergeant, he looks after his unwell father and assists with driving a local bus that takes kids to...

House of Darkness (2022)

Once upon a time… after meeting at a bar, Hap (Justin Long) offers to take things to the next step and drives his date, Mina (Kate Bosworth), home. The film begins with Hap driving into Mina's driveway and discovering that she lives in a big castle, to his surprise....

Dashcam (2021)

Set during the Covid pandemic, we are introduced to Annie Hardy. Annie is a musician and a well-known live streamer who spends her nights driving around while hosting a live music show known as ‘BandCar’. In the film’s world, BandCar is the number one live improvised...

V/H/S/99 (2022)

Introducing the fifth instalment within the V/H/S series. The year is 1999, and audiences will witness five new horrifying stories from one VHS tape. For those who are not aware, the V/H/S franchise is filled with various short horror films that are loosely connected...

Dark Glasses (2022)

A professional prostitute named Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) has a great life in Italy with various well-paying clients who call for her services regularly. However, within the city lies a serial killer who is targeting prostitutes. One evening, as Diana bids farewell to...

Deadstream (2022)

Shawn Ruddy (Joseph Winter) is a famous online influencer when it comes to social media. Known for conducting various stunts and funny videos, his popularity earns him incredible sponsorships. However, when one video went too far, Shawn was instantly...

The Stranger (2022)

Based on a true story that all started in Queensland, Australia, Henry (Sean Harris) is a man exhausted by his life and haunted by his past crimes. Travelling by bus, Henry meets a man named Paul (Steve Mouzakis) and the two strike up a conversation, leading to a new...

Monstrous (2022)

Fleeing her abusive ex-husband, Laura (Christina Ricci) moves into a new home along with her seven-year-old son Cody (Santino Barnard). The new home is large and seems peaceful, plus it even has a lake behind the home, which is pleasing. However, as Laura and Cody...

Don’t Worry Darling (2022)

Set in the 1950s, Don't Worry Darling follows a housewife named Alice (Florence Pugh), who lives with her husband Jack (Harry Styles). Life for Alice is perfect as she lives in a loving community filled with solid friendships and beauty. Each day her husband goes to...

Under Cover (2022)

Once upon a time, buying a home was easier and would provide the homeowner with a safe place and peace of mind. In the present day, economics has changed everything regarding buying or renting a home, leaving many with shattered dreams and homeless. Under Cover is an...

The Osterman Weekend (1983)

A well-recognised TV journalist and celebrity, John Tanner (Rutger Hauer), is approached by a CIA agent named Lawrence Fassett (John Hurt). The two meet in secret, and agent Lawrence reveals dark details about some of Tanner's close friends. After watching various...

Dig (2022)

The film begins with something quite tragic and horrific. One evening, Scott Brennan (Thomas Jane) makes choices with disastrous consequences, leading to the death of his wife and his only daughter Jane (Harlow Jane), losing her hearing instantly. In the present day,...

Raven’s Hollow (2022)

Surely you've heard of the famous poet Edgar Allan Poe.  Introducing a new story about the poet based on the time before he wrote one of his famous poems, this film focuses on the well-known author.  Edgar Allan Poe (William Moseley) here is a West Point...

On the Count of Three (2021)

Val (Jerrod Carmichael) and Kevin (Christopher Abbott) are best friends. In the present day, things for Val and Kevin could certainly be better. Val is at a point in life where he wants everything to end. He quits his successful job, breaks up with his girlfriend, and...

Ticket to Paradise (2022)

David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts) are a divorced couple, and even after years have passed, they still can't stand to be in each other's presence without starting a debate or rehashing their past as a married couple. The one thing that forces them to...

Little Monsters (2022)

Would you like to know a secret about something that lives inside every house? What if I told you that in every home, no matter how many people live inside it, there is something else living inside too, something that nobody knows exists? No, I'm not talking about the...

Shapeless (2021)

Set in New Orleans, Shapeless follows a young woman named Ivy (Kelly Murtagh). Presently, Ivy is highly passionate about all things relating to jazz, regularly performing on stage and even on the streets. Other jazz performers within the city also inspire her. When...

Secret of the Incas (1954)

Harry Steele (Charlton Heston) is a man that fits many descriptions. Working daily as a tourist guide, Harry enjoys tricking others so he can earn money at an easy pace. When Harry isn't working, he's seeking the next adventure or conducting side jobs that pay well....

The Scarlet Hour (1956)

The film begins with Pauline (Carol Ohmart) and Marshall (Tom Tryon) spending the evening together in a parked car sharing intimate moments and general conversations. The two are conscious of other cars driving by as they are meeting secretly. As the night progresses,...

The Retaliators (2021)

Set in New Jersey, the film begins with the introduction of John Bishop (Michael Lombardi), a respectable pastor within his community. John is a single father of two daughters, Sarah (Katie Kelly) and Rebecca (Abbey Hafer). As pastor and father, John keeps his body in...

DC League of Super-Pets (2022)

Have you ever wondered what the world would look like if our superheroes had pets? Possibly not! The film begins with an introduction to the man of steel himself, Superman. We witness his home being destroyed when he's a baby and being sent to Earth in a small vessel....

The Field (1990)

Set in Rural Ireland, the film introduces Bull McCabe (Richard Harris) and his son Tadgh (Sean Bean). Bull rents and lords a field, maintaining it like many generations before him. We learn that Bull is quite passionate about his field and one day hopes he will be...

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)

Alithea (Tilda Swinton ) is a lonely woman who is also a well-educated scholar. While away visiting Istanbul for work, Alithea decides to purchase herself a gift. She finds an odd-shaped bottle that catches her eye, and after the store owner explains its beauty and...