Steven Spielberg is, without a doubt, an important and influential figure in film and arguably the greatest director of all time. It’s also no secret that I’m a huge fan of his movies. After waiting 6 hours in line to attend the world premiere of The Fabelmans at TIFF 22, I was not only captivated and moved, but I can confidently say that this film is his magnum opus. Spielberg’s coming of age story, based on his childhood in Arizona, is a deep and mesmerizing character study of a great filmmaker and the events that shaped him.
The Fabelmans focuses on, well, The Fabelmans, but more specifically, Mitzi Fabelman and Sammy Fabelman. Four-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams is outstanding in this film and might finally win the highly coveted Oscar for her career-best performance as Mitzi. She brings so much emotion to this role, taking the viewer on a wild ride while maintaining the humanity and frailty of her character, showing us that there is so much more to Mitzi than originally meets the eye.
The cinematography is also something to behold. After Janusz Kamiński was snubbed, in my opinion, at the 2022 Academy Awards for his excellent work on West Side Story, he returns to knock it out of the park with The Fabelmans. While all the scenes were excellent, there were two that really stuck out to me. The first one is when Sammy is watching his first ever 8mm movie on the palms of his hands and the second one is a long and continuous pan shot of a teenage Sammy editing his film (both shots are briefly seen in the trailers). Kamiński’s masterful shots only add to the film’s incredible production and give the audience some exquisite shots that cinephiles will love.
The film’s script is one of the strongest I have seen in a Spielberg film. Spielberg and frequent collaborator Tony Kushner wrote a funny, grim, and endearing story. The script meshes well with the talents of everyone involved in the film and every line is delivered perfectly.
The production value of the film is also something to behold. Spielberg and crew manage to transport us back to the 50’s and 60’s in the best and most realistic way possible. Everything is so meticulously crafted that you might start to think that Spielberg built himself a time machine. From the costumes all the way down to the tiniest set details, the production value is exceptional, and perfection is achieved.
Despite all this greatness, perhaps the thing that resonated the most with me was the film’s message and its themes of family, creativity, and loss. Sammy’s love for film and the turmoil he and his family experience are the heart of this very personal film and there the things that I am still thinking about almost 48 hours later.
Overall, The Fabelmans is a phenomenal movie that shouldn’t be missed. I would even go as far to say that it’s Spielberg’s best film. If you are anywhere near Toronto and can get tickets, join every rush line possible for this one…you won’t regret it. Otherwise, you will have to wait until American Thanksgiving to see this one. Either way, I have no doubt that this film will be a major awards contender this year and that it will be a huge hit at the box office.