Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited semi-autobiographical reminiscence of his childhood is here, and it’s perfect. Too perfect. José swoons over the way The Fabelmans transports him to its place and time and shows love and understanding to everybody it depicts, but has to admit that a few rougher edges here and there would have done it a favour. There’s only so much drama in the life of Spielberg’s young avatar, Sammy Fabelman, and that which there is is on the tame side. But Spielberg’s love for his parents is obvious and appealing, as is his love for cinema, which he’s unafraid to get specific about – the sequences that show Sammy making and screening films convey an interest in the aesthetics, technicalities, and effects of film, rather than giving it the far vaguer “magic of the movies” treatment such “love letters to cinema” often offer.
The Fabelmans is as unwilling to explore the dark side of humanity as we’re used to Spielberg being, but it avoids his proclivity for schmaltz, and José loved it. So there.