Steven Spielberg Gets Personal with "The Fabelmans"
When I was five years old my father took me and my little brother to see “JAWS”. It terrified me! So much so that even though we were on land I kept looking out the back window to see if the shark was following us during the car ride home. That night I slept in a little ball because I was sure if I stretched my legs out the shark would bite them off. Worse yet, the carpet in my room was blue and I was positive later that night it was going to turn to water and the shark was going to get me. Today it is my #1 favorite movie of all time. That is my Steven Spielberg story.
The Oscar winning filmmaker is now ready to share his own personal fable with his latest, “The Fabelmans”. This is more than just a “How Steven Spielberg got interested in making movies” tale. This dives much deeper. So much so that he contacted his three sisters and got their permission to make it before he went ahead with production. The revelations go much deeper as we see how his parents had less than an ideal marriage and the anti-Semitism he faced as a teenager.
Spielberg has always had this natural connection when it comes to working with children. It goes all the way back to the first film he wrote and directed, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Remember little Barry? Then, of course there was Drew Barrymore in "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Haley Joel Osment in "A.I. Artificial Intelligence". So it is no surprise when it came to casting little "Sammy" he found Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord. Sammy sees his first movie at five years old, "The Greatest Show on Earth". I imagine a big reason why Mateo got cast was because of his eyes. The look on that little boy's face while he watches is probably not unlike that of the many children and adults who have watched Spielberg's work over the years.
The story has an emotional pack. I saw an advanced screening at the Miami Jewish Film Festival. Nancy Spielberg, Steven's younger sister attended the screening. She shared it was her seventh time seeing the film. She introduced it by saying, "Welcome to my family." Despite the number of times seeing it, she still had to get up and leave at one point. I heard another patron followed her to give her a hug.
The biggest stand out in this was without a doubt, is Michelle Williams who plays Mitzi Fabelman, the mother of the family. She will certainly find herself heavily nominated this award season. Her best moment comes when teenaged Sammy, played fantastically by Gabriel LaBelle shows her one of his films. We, the audience have already seen the footage prior to her seeing it. Steven Spielberg keeps the shot on her just focusing on her reactions. It is a brilliant piece of acting.
Naturally if you are a fan of Steven Spielberg's then "The Fabelmans" is a must see. It has its ups and downs, but even if you are not a die hard fan, it is another great piece of filmmaking and just a good story.