When Steven Spielberg drops a new film, the whole industry takes note, but when the picture in question is a revealing take on his own childhood, the whole world stands up. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Spielberg’s next big film, The Fabelmans, is a coming-of-age story that centres on the director’s formative years growing up in post-World War II era Arizona. Set for a November 23rd theatrical release, the story focuses on young Sammy Fabelman, who discovers a shattering family secret and explores the power of the movies.
It’s a film that Spielberg has been considering for quite a long time. Back in 1999, the acclaimed director told The New York Times he had an interest in directing an autobiographical story about his family, sharing, ”My big fear is that my mom and dad won’t like it and will think it’s an insult and won’t share my loving yet critical point of view about what it was like to grow up with them.”
The ensemble cast includes four-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, and Seth Rogen. Spielberg co-wrote the screenplay alongside playwright Tony Kushner, who also wrote the screenplays for Spielberg’s Munich, Lincoln, and last year’s West Side Story.
“When we were making Munich together 20 years ago, he told me the story that is the core of The Fabelmans,” screenwriter Tony Kushner told IndieWire. “I said, ‘You’re going to have to make a movie about that someday.’ We sort of joked about it for a long time. Then it stopped being a joke. When lockdown started, he called me and said, ‘Let’s take the outline and boil it down.’ Then, in October 2020, he said, ‘Let’s start writing.’ And I freaked out. We wrote three days a week, four hours a day, and we finished the script in two months: by leagues the fastest I’ve finished anything. It was a blast. I loved it.”
Spielberg’s love letter to the movies received a standing ovation at TIFF, with Michelle Williams getting rave reviews from critics for her performance as a version of the director’s mother. In a post-screening Q&A at the Toronto premiere, the master director shared, “This film is, for me, a way of bringing my mom and dad back. And it also brought my sisters, Annie, Susie, and Nancy, closer to me than I ever thought possible.”
The Fabelmans is set to open in select theatres on November 11th before premiering everywhere on November 23rd. Check out the first-look trailer above.