“Cahiers du cinéma” dedicated around 20 pages to Spielberg’s latest film «The Fabelmans». This autobiographical portrait of Sammy (Steven’s alter ego) is worth watching, especially in terms of narrative style but also more technical aspects. First of all it is self-reflexive of the medium itself because it tells the story of a young boy, who experiments with different film cameras in the 50ies (Bolex, Arriflex etc.) and dreams of becoming a “picture maker”.
Michelle Williams as Mitzi Fabelman and Paul Dano in the role of her genius husband Burt Fabelman make a wonderful screen couple with some heavy “marital problems” as they move from State to State (New Jersey, Arizona, California). Their four children, Reggie (Julia Butters), Natalie (Keeley Karsten), Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle) and Lisa (Sophia Kopera) move along as well as they can but not without little nervous breakdowns. There are of course many happy moments, like the camping holidays of the family together with oncle Bennie (Seth Rogen), who doesn’t hide his attraction for Mitzi. With his camera, Sammy records these moments and during editing discovers something that will forever change his perception of his mother.
«The Fabelmans» is a classical Spielberg: linear narration, smooth and well proportioned shots and saturated vintage colors of the 1950ies and 1960ies. From costume over set design to the perfectly casted family and their entourage, Spielberg’s film entertains in a very American manner that is symptomatic of a certain cinema and reminds us of the great masters. Like the supposedly best director in the world remarks at the end of the film: «The horizon in a shot has to be either at the bottom or at the top. If it’s centered, your film will be boring». This enlightening statement is followed by a shot of Sammy in front of a studio building. The camera tilts from bottom to top, moving the horizon-line.