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Fabelmans, The


Stars: Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Gabriel LaBelle, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, Jeannie Berlin, Chloe East, Oakes Fegley, Sam Rechner, David Lynch

Director: Steven Spielberg

Spielberg's semi-autobiographical drama about a Jewish family over a 15 year period (from 1952 on), with three daughters and a movie-mad son, makes decent and atmospheric, if unspectacular entertainment.

The family's 'Uncle' Benny (Rogen), the wife's mother (Berlin) and a new-born baby also boost the overcrowded Fabelman household.

After Sammy (LaBelle) is introduced to the cinema, being mesmerised by the train crash in The Greatest Show on Earth, the household moves en bloc to Arizona, headed by Father (Dano), who has been offered a better-paid job there, and Mother (Williams), a former concert pianist.

A later move to California (for the same reason) is less successful, as Sammy, seemingly the only Jewish kid on campus (!), finds himself bullied and beaten for his beliefs. But he keeps making his home movies, on increasingly expensive cine-cameras. During the editing of one, mainly about his mother, Sammy gradually realises that she and 'Uncle' Benny are involved in a long-standing relationship.

The minutiae of family life are as well observed as you would expect from this director although, at just over two-and-a-half hours, his film is almost inevitably too long, especially towards the end, if enlivened slightly therein by a crusty, croaky cameo from director Lynch as legendary filmmaker John Ford.

LaBelle, with echoes of the young Dustin Hoffman, does well as Sammy, while Williams and Dano are subtly fine, their facial expressions often conveying emotions more accurately and forcefully than the dialogue.

David Quinlan

USA 2022. UK Distributor: eOne (Amblin). Colour by FotoKem.
151 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 24 Jan 2023