Director (and co-writer) Steven Spielberg’s latest is a semi-autobiographical tale of a young boy growing up with a love of movie-making. The story of wide-eyed wonder we may have been expecting (or hoping for), however, is replaced by revelations of a contentious household, a band of high school bullies, and antisemitism. It combines into something not quite the sum of its parts and lands instead as a mildly disjointed series of loosely connected vignettes and anecdotes. There’s no question the filmmaking (including the cinematography, score, and performances) is top-notch, but the story overall is a disappointing menagerie, let down by the absence of a consistent, connecting thread.

3.5/5 stars