Films at the Fox: The Fabelmans is an enthralling, excellent and deeply personal Steven Spielberg movie

Brady Burkett reviews The Fabelmans which recently played the Fox Theatre in the Beach.

Local student Brady Burkett shares his reviews of movies that have recently been shown, or will be shown, at the Fox Theatre on Queen Street East in the Beach.

By BRADY BURKETT

Steven Spielberg is obviously one of the most iconic and influential directors in film history. He practically invented the blockbuster film with Jaws (a film that I embarrassingly and tragically have yet to become familiar with), and then subsequently released timeless masterpiece after timeless masterpiece in every variety of genre and tone, from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Saving Private Ryan to Schindler’s List.

This being said, in recent years Spielberg has struggled somewhat to maintain that impossible level of quality, releasing somewhat mediocre mush like Ready Player One.

The Fabelmans, his newest film, is clearly an attempt at a return to form, but the question is whether or not it’s successful. Has he lost his magic entirely, or is that spark still present?

The Fabelmans is a coming-of-age story following a Jewish boy named Sammy Fabelman from his childhood to his teenage years, through his love of filmmaking and strained relationship with his parents. It’s essentially Spielberg’s autobiography but with names and details changed, and that shines through in the filmmaking.

The entire film has a sense of sometimes uncomfortable intimacy that can only come when the material is deeply personal to the human being behind the camera. Indeed, it is this personal touch that lends an incredible realism to everything, even through all of the standard Spielberg cheesy schmaltz.

If there is a filmmaker that is able to take incredibly familiar, worn cliches and polish them up until they’re sparklingly new, it is absolutely Steven Spielberg. Almost every single element of The Fabelmans is something you have absolutely seen several thousand times in several thousand other stories, but its ability to get you invested in them despite this is its magic.

This got me entirely unironically invested in a high-school bullying storyline, because it was done so well. Again, it’s all because of that personal touch Spielberg brings to every shot.

It’s not only Spielberg, though, as every actor is also at the very top of their game. Michelle Williams does give a very “ACTING”-y performance, but it’s an incredible performance nonetheless, one that would probably win Best Actress in any year that didn’t have Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang and Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár.

Paul Dano is also fantastic, but the real standout discovery is Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy Fabelman himself. He injects so much humanity into his character, hitting every required note perfectly.

The direction is as on-point as it always is from Spielberg, having understatedly excellent cinematography and editing throughout. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for the score, where the usually excellent John Williams fails to get in any really memorable tracks.

That said, the film culminates in one of the best final scenes of the year and one of the best final shots of all time, perfectly bringing his entire filmography full-circle. If this was Spielberg’s final film, and it very well might be, then it would be the perfect send-off to a legendary filmmaker.

The Fabelmans is absolutely a fitting return-to-form for Steven Spielberg after his bout of mediocrity. It’s an enthralling, excellently directed, perfectly paced coming-of-age story that despite feeling like it was released in the early 1990s manages to simultaneously feel so very fresh. And that’s because of how obviously personal the entire story is to Spielberg himself, giving the film a tone simultaneously corny and sentimental as well as painfully honest.

It’s absolutely one of the year’s best.

I give it a rating of nine out of 9 out of 10.

The Fox Theatre is located at 2236 Queen St. E. The Fabelmans recently played at the Fox Theatre. For more information on upcoming films playing at the Fox, please visit https://www.foxtheatre.ca

EDITOR’S NOTE: Brady Burkett is a local resident and high school student. The opinions in the reviews are his, and the reviews are not sponsored or vetted by the Fox Theatre.


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