The Fablemans – adorable and annoying equally.

The Fablemans: at home 12th and 15th of March

I really wanted to love this film. I am a great believer in Spielberg as a master of emotions and nostalgia. Catch Me If You Can and Raiders of the Lost Ark are two of my favourite films and you always know that his films will be beautifully done. Not only that, but this is a film about his love of film (another strong theme for this year’s films with Empire Of Light showing Sam Mendes’s take on it too), which I always love. There were wonderful parts of it, but elements jarred with me.

The positives:

Judd Hirsch. I don’t think I need to say much more about that. Equally frightening and lovable, he completely stole the show and his message about art was captivating.

David Lynch as John Ford. Again, loved the whole short sequence and I presume his advice to Spielberg/Sam Fabelman on framing was pretty accurate. Love it when you hear about Classical Hollywood and New Hollywood mixing.

Gabriel Labelle as teenage Sam. He was adorable, funny, sparky and completely engaging. Lots of the teenage parts and the California High School were great. I felt it really moved up a gear when the film was set there.

Seeing Sam make and watch films. I always love how filmmakers show these moments.

The mise-en-scène: 1940s to1960s America. Was there ever a more beautiful, hopeful moment? That it also involved lots of cameras and editing equipment made it even better.

The Negatives:

Mitzy Fableman and Michelle Williams: I just found the character intensely irritating. The binary opposition of female artistic sensibility and male scientific logic was annoying. The image of female madness, attention seeking behaviour and lack of self-awareness just set me on edge and the character and performance just made me resent the family sequences.

Burt Fableman and Paul Dano: I normally love Paul Dano and there were some lovely emotional scenes, but he just seemed very flat and I didn’t buy him as a father figure (he still seems too young somehow).

Seth Rogen as Bennie: couldn’t see him as a dashing, entrancing figure, which makes Mitzy’s decision even more stupid. Seth Rogen never convinces me in serious roles and his character wasn’t fleshed out enough.

As I write all of these things, I start realising that Spielberg could have just been positioning us in the child’s POV to make the adult world incomprehensible. He’s probably manipulated me like the master he is to question why any of these events are happening and disrupting the status quo. Git.

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