There remains a remove though still, Spielberg giving us a slightly too stage-managed version of himself and his family, some gristle missing from the darkest moments.
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With The Fabelmans, Spielberg is grappling with his own mythology, and re-examining it, too. This isn't exactly how Spielberg's life unfolded; it's the Hollywood version, and that's fitting.
The warm, witty Fabelmans is Spielberg at his most revealing, and watching him reflect on his past is downright extraordinary.
I’d say this playful yet nakedly personal coming-of-auteur epic was trying to split the difference between memoir and crowdpleaser, but it seems even more determined to reconcile the two: What else would Steven Spielberg’s ultimate divorce movie be about if not the hope for some kind of reconciliation?
Because it's Spielberg, it's all beautifully, meticulously rendered, and not a little glazed in wistful sentiment: an infinitely tender, sometimes misty ode to the people who raised him and the singular passion for cinema that shaped him.
Spielberg’s a born storyteller, and these are arguably his most precious stories.
Spielberg has given us all so much magic over the course of our lives, and The Fabelmans becomes yet another Spielberg masterpiece, but this time, by showing us how this magic came to be in his own life.
It feels a little too light and even occasionally uncertain in the early going, but picks up steam, becomes deeper and more moving and absolutely nails the ending.
Semi-autobiographical and dedicated to his late mom and dad, the film is a potent memory piece guided by remarkable performances from Michelle Williams and Paul Dano, who are asked to walk a delicate tonal tightrope, delivering a portrait of an imperfect marriage that’s heartbreaking in its tenderness.
It’s Spielberg’s most personal film, one that gorgeously revives the memories of his childhood and youth with a lavish sense of wistfulness and an aptly Hollywood-ized, fable-like touch.