Only a few movies that hit the big screen in 2022 will be as memorable or powerful as The Fabelmans.
Steven Spielberg is undoubtedly one of the best filmmakers of all time. From Jaws to Jurassic Park and more recently The Post and West Side Story, he has touched every corner of cinema and filmmaking, continuously bringing great films to the big screen. That being said, it has been several years since he has made something truly memorable and touching. This doesn’t mean he has made bad movies in the recent years. Many have been quite good. But he hasn’t made one like The Fabelmans in a long, long time. This one is nothing like the lackluster West Side Story or predictable Ready Player One. It’s much different in the best ways.
The Fabelmans is a coming-of-age story, primarily following Sammy, but the rest of the family is very important to the story as well. Sammy aspires to be a director in the film industry, and along the way he learns a secret that is earth-shattering to him and his family. His mom, Mitzi, is the artistic one that supports his aspirations to make movies while his dad thinks it’s just a hobby. They both love and support him, but it’s obvious as time goes on that he wishes his dad would see it as something he wants to do as a career and not for fun. The script does a great job demonstrating the struggles a family can go through, even if they appear well off and happy. This movie perfectly captures the sacrifices one makes for the people we love.
From top to bottom, the performances in The Fabelmans are fantastic. All the performances feel very human and real, which help make the very personal moments in this film hit even harder. The movie puts a magnifying glass on what it feels like to truly create art, and what it feels like when that art no longer becomes yours. Sammy experiences the worst moment of his life and every time he gets behind the projector, he hopes people like what he has created despite that awful moment being in the back of his mind. This human aspect of The Fabelmans gives it as much heart as any Spielberg movie we have seen, which makes it mesmerizing.
While the entire movie is great, the third act of The Fabelmans is really where it sets itself apart with no time wasted in its final 40 minutes. Not to spoil anything, but some moments demonstrate the power of filmmaking perfectly. One scene in particular might be one of the best scenes Spielberg has ever directed. The movie might feel over-sentimental in the first two-thirds, but it’s easy to forgive simply for how wonderful it is as a whole. Nearly every emotional beat is hit by the time the credits roll, and that’s a very difficult thing to accomplish as a filmmaker.
Do yourself a favor and go see The Fabelmans in theaters over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It is no doubt one of the best experiences that will be had at the movies in 2022 and it proves that Spielberg can and will continue to make classic, timeless movies for years to come (hopefully). As a movie about a guy making movies, it goes above and beyond simple nostalgia that you would expect from a one of the best-ever filmmakers who is finally making a memoir after all these years. There is so much more to The Fabelmans and it is not only one of the best movies of 2022, but one of the best movies in the past decade.
(out of five stars)