I just got out of a showing of the Fabelmans at the local theater, and I’m honestly stunned. I knew going in that the movie had been critically acclaimed, but literally nothing could have prepared me for the masterpiece that it was.
I also knew going in that the family in the story (a mirror to director Steven Spielberg’s own family), was Jewish. But the way that their Jewishness was propelled to the front of the screen completely unapologetically took me completely by surprise.
Yes, this was your typical Conservative or Reform American Jewish family, but by no means was this portrayl watered down for the benefit of those unfamiliar with our culture. From the use of yiddish slang, to Shabbat dinners, to the proper use of prayers at the Channukah candle lighting, to even a Jewish song sung around a campfire, this movie was unapologetically Jewish.
Perhaps it was just me being naïve, but I wasn’t expecting the main character, Sammy, to have to face antisemitic harassment at school, so when the first slurs were slung I was taken aback. The depictions of antisemitic bullying are hard to watch, but accurate to the way many of us have felt growing up around gentiles who couldn’t bother to learn to respect others.
From the good to the bad, Spielberg’s The Fabelmans absolutely stole my heart and kept me enthralled from beginning to end. I had never felt more accurately represented in a movie before. I cannot recommend this movie enough.