Scarlett Worthington’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Movies are like dreams.”
When I tell you that I literally cried for the entirety of this movie I genuinely mean it. I was blubbering from the first sight of bright hopeful eyes looking upon a movie screen for the first time.
Stephen Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical story of the life of a young boy who dreams of being a filmmaker, whose family both makes and breaks him is may be as sentimental as it sounds but it is a passion project in every sense of the phrase. There is a sense of magic, wonder, love, truth, passion and strife all combined in a beautifully tragic and realistic way and all these strong themes and emotions fuel the narrative. The sentimentality comes with reason, justification and impact so I for one do not have a problem with it. Bias may be at play because this film’s content resonates with me deeply, but doesn’t that show that Spielberg has hit a core here?
I loved the split focus of cinema and family. The essence of having such a yearning to create is captured so purely and so brilliantly here and the family drama aspect is multi-layered and equally endearing as it is upsetting. Yet through this we are shown a portrait made up of the same strokes. It is Sammy’s family that drive him to make films whether they are always supportive of him or not. From having a beautifully peculiar family, which includes a creative Mother and a Father who adored her for all she was, there was a need to capture memories and this passion just becomes stronger and stronger. But what really struck a chord with me, as well as impressed me, was this really honest sense of what family is. Because you love them, you hate them, they make you better but sometimes they don’t; nonetheless they make you who you are and most importantly you love them no matter what mistakes they make.
They say that life isn’t like a movie but … it kind of is. It has ups and downs, beautiful moments as well as ugly, there are times where it flies by and times where it slows down and there are a multitude of people involved to make it what it is. I really got a sense of that here and I found it such a beautiful thing to convey. Movies are life reflected through a fabulous lens that captures all the things we wish to see and emotions we yearn to feel again or maybe not feel again. The visuals really reflected this idea for me. I particularly loved these particular two moments: one where Sammy played the projection of his train crashing on his hands and the other (my favourite) where two reels of film frame his face as he works on one of his movies, these 24 frames a picture are the cogs in his head, the chemicals in his brain, the organs keeping him alive. Movies fuel him for a reason that goes deeper than it being simply a ‘hobby’ (oof that hit close to home). To capture and to present things, to make and craft is a truly beautiful thing as to escape is a necessary activity to keep us from going insane. This film was all about that escape and I absolutely adore it for that.