Working from a warmly insightful screenplay he wrote with regular collaborator Tony Kushner, director Steven Spielberg turns the camera on his own history and emerges with a work that is arguably the most penetrating of his storied career. Heavily autobiographical, The Fabelmans spends a few years with the clan of the same name, charting their ups, downs, and cross-country reinventions. Of particular interest is young Sammy (played as a young boy by Mateo Zoryan Francis-DeFord and then as a teenager by Gabriel LaBelle, who brings resonant emotional honesty to the role), a devotee of movies who makes his own amateur features and harbors dreams of a Hollywood life. The film is about the travails of family, the ways in which loved ones live up to and thwart expectations, sometimes in the very same moment, and the general challenge of growing up when it can feel like being truly understood is forever out of reach in a society where everyone is flailing in their own secret way. Of course, it is also about the movies, less the precious wonderment of them and more the ways in which they unveil truth, if only because the lens is unhampered by the tricky personal biases that can cause people to not see what’s right in front of them. The Fabelmans also argues that the skilled practitioner who understands cinema’s arcane magic can also bend that light of truth through the prism of technique, leaving audiences dazzled into adoring mere myths. In his craft, Spielberg has never been more brightly playful, all the way to the final shot, which is simultaneously a fantastic visual gag and a cheerful acknowledgement that it’s his job to serve the audience. That is a job he does exceedingly well.