The Fabelmans

The Fabelmans ★★★★★

This might as well be the story of my childhood, just look past the fact that Spielberg became the most famous director of all-time and I'm out here writing reviews for the tiniest audience imaginable.

This story connected with me on a visceral level, just swap "The Greatest Show on Earth" with "Jurassic Park" and the toy trains with dinosaur figures — I had a similar upbringing with my passion for movies, my dad as the intellectual and my mom as a painter, constantly moving before they separated as we settled in California, just in time for High School, where my thick French accent got me bullied but also helped me draw attention from a few girls.

But that's where the similarities end, and knowing Spielberg's story, I anticipated this film to fill me with regret about not pursuing my dreams of becoming a movie director but The Fabelmans reveals a raw lesson about life: "Family. Art. It will tear you into two!" Every decision involves a sacrifice and I clearly remember the moment after High School where I decided that my passion for film was just a hobby: my home was broken, mainly due to my parents fighting over their poor finances, and so I told myself that making a living wage was more important than becoming a starving artist — money was going to fix everything. For Spielberg, his love for cinema proved too powerful, it became a form of therapy, an escape from his reality and making movies helped him deal with his real problems.

The most illuminating moments come from young Sammy watching the reactions to his homemade movie, he gets such a kick out of it, whether it's from the boyscouts or his family. But nothing is more crushing than when he looks at proud Papa Dano turn to his mom after one of his movies just to see her immediately turn to Uncle Rogen instead. This entire plot point is the engine for the movie, it all falls apart if this doesn't work and I already knew Spielberg's story about his parents so I couldn't help but smile when Pann audibly gasped as young Sammy JFK zapruders the camping trip footage, everything from the first reveal to the audience to the reaction from Mitzi is an emotional homerun. And when Sammy finally decides to show his mom what he knows by playing the camping trip footage, he for the first time refuses to be part of the audience, with his mom not having a clue what she's about to watch... And when she walks out in tears and all Sammy can do is forgive her right away, as if he feels bad for what he put her through? Right in the feels Steven!!!!

A lot of what drove Spielberg to become the defining director of our era lies in the scene where he premieres the Ditch Day movie, Sammy makes his bully look like a superhero and it gives him a huge case of imposter syndrome, the bully chases Sammy down to find out why he made him look so good and that’s the key to understanding Spielberg. Sammy can’t explain his natural gift, this knack for knowing where to point the camera, manipulating pictures and sound to get precise reactions out of the viewer. It’s that gift that turned Spielberg into one of our greatest entertainers, with his personal life spiraling out of control it's behind the camera that he finds himself fully in charge of his story, that’s how he became a master storyteller.

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