THB #252: The Fablemans
The Fabelmans is a tale of two movies. Maybe more than two movies.
There is an 8-minute sequence and a 5-minute sequence featuring cameos as well as 2 speeches from the core cast that are instant classics. Seriously, they should playing be in cubicles as you get off the escalator on each floor of The Academy Museum, reminding people touring the facility what movies and the love of art is all about. Masterful. Magic. Perfect.
And then there is the rest of the movie, which also contains moments of absolute magic. But also can’t quite settle in its own movie-mind what it wants to be about.
It’s a coming of age story… but not really about the kid coming of age.
It’s a divorce movie… but not really willing to dig deep into the divorce.
It’s a movie about a kid obsessed with movies… but this doesn’t really drive the movie, though the segments of “Sammy” making movies are often wonderful.
It’s a movie about mental illness… but is it mental illness or just a woman with style? Or is she just too selfish for words?
Somehow, with all these interesting and compelling pieces, the movie never finds its flow. And it’s hard to really put a finger on why.
I have been a relentless fan of Michelle Williams for a long time and think she should already have 2 Oscars on her shelf. But on second viewing, the sense that she is kinda playing a better version of Liza Minnelli is hard to shake. No one else has a pronounced accent. No one else is playing anything other than firmly grounded takes on these characters. Like so many things on this movie, there is the sense that you are seeing an awards kind of performance… and at the same time, outside of her last big speech, in which she has her clearest and most calm moment in the film, some sense that the performance is too big in the context of the film.
A movie in which mom brings home a monkey and names it after the man she left behind is a movie that seems to desperately to want to be about her… but this movie is not really about her.
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