Stories We Tell Reviews

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Dana Stevens
Slate
December 31, 2013
If a personal memoir film by a beautiful, successful young woman from a nice Toronto family sounds to you like it can only be an excuse for self-absorbed navel-gazing, well, you must not have seen a Sarah Polley movie yet.
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
December 31, 2013
Stories We Tell is one of those movies you watch on a screen and replay in your head for days, moving between its many levels of inquiry and touched, always, by Polley's compassion toward her relatives in particular and people in general.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
December 31, 2013
he opposite of a courageous piece of work, Stories We Tell goes out of its way to protect every single person it touches.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
December 31, 2013
Sarah Polley's remarkable Stories We Tell transcends every cliche in this confessional/investigatory genre, and it's one of the year's highlights.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Cath Clarke
Time Out
June 25, 2013
Everyone has a different story. I found myself holding my breath listening to them talk. The story twists like a thriller.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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David Thomson
The New Republic
June 12, 2013
Stories We Tell is not just very moving; it is an exploration of truth and fiction that will stay with you long after repeated viewings.
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
June 6, 2013
Part of the movie's pleasure is how comfortable the "storytellers" are with their director; you get a sense of a complicated but tight-knit family, going along with Sarah's project because they love her.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
June 6, 2013
What a great movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Tom Long
Detroit News
May 31, 2013
Never sentimental, never cold and never completely sure of anything, Polley comes across as a woman caught in wonder.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
May 30, 2013
After you see it, you'll be practically exploding with questions - and with awe.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
May 30, 2013
Stories We Tell is just the latest reminder of nonfiction film's current, endlessly innovative state. That's a story worth savoring.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
May 30, 2013
It's a relationship drama spanning three decades, a detective mystery, an essay on the nature of memory, and a critique of our need to process messy human life into streamlined narrative arcs even at the cost of oversimplifying.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Calvin Wilson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 30, 2013
As one watches it, certain questions may arise. But don't worry - the answers are fascinating.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
May 24, 2013
Sarah might have wrapped up this documentary after her parentage is revealed about 70 minutes in, yet it continues for another 50 as she ruminates over the tale,... her engrossing personal story gradually devolving into an exercise in self-regard.
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Sheila O'Malley
Chicago Sun-Times
May 23, 2013
Stories told again and again have a way of neatening things up. Stories have a way of ironing out the wrinkles. Polley lets the wrinkles remain.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Anthony Lane
New Yorker
May 20, 2013
Sarah Polley's documentary is a startling mixture of private memoir, public inquiry, and conjuring trick.
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
May 17, 2013
Polley was right to follow her instincts, though, in not attempting to tie everything up. She recognizes that family histories are necessarily contradictory, crazymaking, and essentially unfathomable.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
May 17, 2013
What unfolds is a riveting drama that grows even more so as it plays out.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
May 16, 2013
Don't be fooled by its deceptively simple title or the hesitant, unassuming way it begins. Writer-director Sarah Polley's "Stories We Tell" ends up an invigorating powerhouse of a personal documentary, adventurous and absolutely fascinating.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
May 16, 2013
A brilliant, thought-provoking documentary.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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John Anderson
Newsday
May 16, 2013
A fascinating variant on the documentary form that examines what we see, and how we see it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
May 16, 2013
Even calling ''Stories We Tell'' a documentary seems rather limiting and not entirely accurate; it's also a deadpan comedy, a juicy melodrama and a gripping mystery, all cleverly blended together with great focus.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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May 10, 2013
An exercise in family navel-gazing becomes something more meta - less about the stories themselves than about the often uproarious ways in which people tell stories.
Full Review | Original Score: 10
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
May 10, 2013
Polley is a good filmmaker but in the end, "Stories We Tell" feels less like a film than a family album - and one best appreciated, not by us, but by the Polleys still to come.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
May 10, 2013
The fact that two of the principals - Sarah and Michael, who delivers touching and eloquent on-camera narration that he wrote himself - are accomplished actors adds another level of confusion and interest that help make this compelling storytelling.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
May 9, 2013
"Stories We Tell" is two or maybe three dangerous kinds of movies all at the same time, and handled so brilliantly that the result is a transformative, unforgettable work of art.
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
May 9, 2013
"Stories We Tell" has a number of transparent virtues, including its humor and formal design, although its most admirable quality is the deep sense of personal ethics that frames Ms. Polley's filmmaking choices.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
May 9, 2013
The film is a mystery uncovered like a detective story, wrapped in a love letter.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
May 9, 2013
Don't let anyone spoil the surprises that unravel in this movie as Polley has her brilliant way with the elusiveness of truth.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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A.A. Dowd
AV Club
May 9, 2013
An investigative mystery, a real-life soap opera, and-most compellingly, perhaps-a searching "interrogation" (the director's word) of the hows and whys of storytelling itself.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
May 8, 2013
Takes the proposition that reality is more dramatic than fiction and tests it out in a startlingly original, even head-spinning way.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Stephanie Zacharek
Village Voice
May 7, 2013
Polley's documentary, Stories We Tell, attempts to unravel some of the mysteries of her own family's life, even as it stretches far beyond the confines of your standard navel-gazing autobiography.
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Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
May 7, 2013
Polley has gone further into the thorny subject of forgiveness than any of her peers. Her movies ache with ethical quandary; Stories We Tell aches the most.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Guy Lodge
Variety
May 1, 2013
This playful and elegiac documentary is wholly of a piece with Sarah Polley's fiction work, and just as rewarding.
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Neil Young
Hollywood Reporter
May 1, 2013
Canadian documentary skilfully deploys some ambitious creative gambits to explore the director's own family background.
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
April 29, 2013
Polley has gone meta-exuberantly, entertainingly, with all her heart.
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January 20, 2013
[Stories We Tell] leaves you wondering about the nature of truth and wanting to know more about the hidden lives of those around us.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
October 12, 2012
The film is oscillating from intriguing to dull, revealing to repetitious, frank to disingenuous, and moving to manipulative.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
October 11, 2012
Sarah Polley's brave quest to uncover her family's deepest secrets unfolds like a thriller, one where the resolution is literally part of her DNA.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Mary Corliss
TIME Magazine
September 24, 2012
Tthe probing, emotionally devastating documentary that was, for this critic and many others, the revelation of the first week of the Venice Film Festival."