The Obsession of Twenty Four Frames Per Second: Our Review of ‘The Fabelmans’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - November 22, 2022
The Obsession of Twenty Four Frames Per Second: Our Review of ‘The Fabelmans’

The art of the lion tamer is making sure that the lion doesn’t consume you whole…

In theatres tomorrow; Steven Spielberg’s pseudo autobiographical tale The Fabelmans is not only a love letter to the art of cinema, but an acknowledgment of how the art of it all can be all consuming.

The Fabelmans are 16-year-old aspiring filmmaker Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), his artistic mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams), and his successful, scientific father Burt (Paul Dano), and his younger sisters.

Haters be damned; this story of the Spielberg…ur uh…Fabelmans is how you do a origin story as we get a sense of not only the obsession with the moving image that this critic finds so relatable but more importantly we get a sense of the family that shaped him and how his art truly got him through to the other side to become one of the greatest storytellers in the history of the moving image…ever.

Unabashedly the most person thing the man has ever done, what Spielberg does here is remarkable as he gets invested in the characters of this universe while giving us sly nods to several of his past films.  It all looks amazing with stellar design and flow to the narrative but while it is obviously about this young man, his filmmaking aspirations and the trials and tribulations of his family for those looking this film is about so very much more.

It’s truly the best depiction we’ve ever seen about the obsession and the artistry involved with those flickering lights on the big screen.  Spielberg has effectively realized an emotion that existed, still exists and will forever exist inside the heart of filmmakers and storytellers everywhere which has remained un-visualized until now.

It’s all about that sense of the narratives in our lives and how moments can change it, shape it and send it on paths that we’d never expect, all of which come through in an inspired performance of a young man tasked with filling his director’s shoes.

With a whopping NINE screen credits to his name, Gabriel Labelle has a chance to be something special in this business as he is directed to a performance that just might get him a nomination as Sammy Fabelman navigating his way through life, changing schools and growing up as he navigates the complex realities that his ‘hobby’ is actually more of a calling and it’s something that defines him as a human being.  As we see the adults in his life guide him in one direction or another, we truly get the conflict in him growing up but also in the jealousy and envy of the adults around him who either haven’t found their calling in life or have just given up on their dreams and their callings when life got in the way.  Labelle plays it all perfectly with singular focus which really and truly highlights the very nature of the obsession of creativity.

That isn’t to say that he didn’t have a little help along the way as this is a film where the supporting players are actually just as vital to the success of the narrative as the leads are….possibly even more so.

The always wonderful Michelle Williams will undoubtedly earn herself a slew of awards nominations playing the emotionally conflicted but always passionate matriarch of this family who gave up on her music for her man and her family.  Paul Dano is his usual excellent and consistently underrated self as the father of the clan who wants happiness for everyone under his roof but is also so driven in his own passions that he can’t see how his dreams are affecting those around him.

While the other female characters in Sammy’s sisters really don’t get a lot of traction, Seth Rogan as family friend and source of emotional friction Benny alongside the scene stealing Judd Hirsch as the enigmatic Uncle Boris prove invaluable in shaping the journey f Sammy into the filmmaker that he’ll inevitably become.

Ultimately yes, we can’t deny that The Fabelmans is giving us a story through a pair of rose coloured glasses, but when those glasses are made by Prada….who the hell really cares?

The Fabelmans is a love letter to the art of storytelling and the art of cinema and through a keen sense of self-awareness we truly see how for this young man and how he put the camera between himself and his world gave him the power, the perspective and the ability to change it for the better.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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