I went to "The Showroom" this afternoon to watch "The Fabelmans". I had been looking forward to seeing this film ever since I heard Steven Spielberg talking about it on BBC Radio 4. You probably know that it is semi-autobiographical, by implication exploring Spielberg's childhood and how he got into making films.
Representing Spielberg's younger self - Sammy Fabelman is played by Gabriel LaBelle who seemed very well cast. Physically, you could imagine him growing up to be Spielberg's doppelganger. His mother Mitzi is played by Michelle Williams and his father Burt by Paul Dano. Superficially, it is a happy marriage but something is missing and in a revelatory moment while editing the film footage of a family camping trip, Sammy sees what is wrong.
With background music by John Williams, the entire film has a beautiful and carefully considered look about it. There's something of The American Dream there - the ease and comfort of post-war suburban living with shiny gas guzzling cars and enormous fridges. The only way is up though being Jewish Sammy suffers in high school in the same way that Steven Spielberg himself had to contend with anti-Semitic bullying.
It is a gently nostalgic film that elicits tears as well as moments of unbridled laughter. There are some lovely cameos involving Chloe East as Sammy's high school sweetheart Monica , Judd Hirsch as his fearsome granduncle Boris Podogmy and even the film director David Lynch as another legendary director - John Ford. At the end of the film, after getting his cigar fired up, Ford says to Sammy, "When the horizon is on the bottom, it’s interesting. When the horizon is on top, it’s interesting. When the horizon is in the middle, it’s boring as shit!"
Steven Spielberg has entertained countless human beings with a wide range of films - my favourite being "Schindler's List". What a life he has lived! He was born to be a film maker and is surely in my generation one of the indisputable good guys. He had the idea for "The Fabelmans" long ago but could only start to bring it to fruition once both of his parents were deceased.
It contains many subtle nods to Hollywood history. I am sure that a genuine film buff would have spotted far more of those moments than I did. It's not the only reason I would happily watch "The Fabelmans" again. Quite lovely and life affirming.