Letterboxd (4/5), Imdb.com (8/10)
Writer-director Steven Spielberg’s less-than-veiled autobiographical coming of age story is easily his most personal film and one of his best efforts in recent years. In a production where he faithfully follows the storyline of his own youth where just about the only thing that has been changed is the characters’ names, he chronicles the upbringing of an aspiring young auteur (Gabriel LaBelle) who developed a passion for filmmaking when virtually everyone else around him thought he was just aggressively pursuing a hobby. In telling this story, Spielberg touches on the many aspects of life that touched him and influenced his work, such as the support of his concert pianist-turned-reluctant-housewife mother (Michelle Williams) and his onetime-showman Uncle Boris (Judd Hirsch), the impact of antisemitism as the only Jewish kid in the neighborhood, and the strife of marital discord between his mother and father (Paul Dano) and an interloping family best friend (Seth Rogen). It’s also one of the best pictures about moviemaking that I’ve ever seen, rivaling works like François Truffaut’s “Day for Night” (1973). As with many of Spielberg’s later films, this one, too, is a tad long in spots and occasionally somewhat episodic. But the polished storytelling and fine performances of the cast (especially Williams and an all-too-brief appearance by Hirsch) allow this effort to shine as one of the best releases of 2022, as well as a strong contender as movie awards season plays out.