Tell Them Who You Are (2005)

Tell Them Who You Are



Critic Consensus: The dysfunctional interaction between director and subject is fascinating, poignant, and revealing of both men and of father-son relationships in general.

Movie Info

Mark Wexler is a successful photojournalist who has also distinguished himself as a documentary filmmaker, but in many ways he has spent much of his life in the shadow of his more famous father, Haskell Wexler. One of Hollywood's greatest cinematographers, Haskell is also known as a director (he made the acclaimed feature Medium Cool as well as a handful of documentaries) and as a tireless political activist. But while Haskell is widely respected as a major talent, he's also known for being … More

Rating: R (for language and some sexual images)
Genre: Documentary, Television, Special Interest
Directed By: ,
Written By: Mark Wexler, Robert DeMaio
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 18, 2005
ThinkFilm - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Tell Them Who You Are

All Critics (71) | Top Critics (30)

It works as a portrait of a father-son relationship that's awkward, volatile, uneven and always painfully real.

Full Review… | March 6, 2007
Associated Press
Top Critic

What we really get from son Mark's unusual take is a sterling movie about fathers (especially famous fathers) and offspring.

Full Review… | November 22, 2005
USA Today
Top Critic

[A] tremendously moving documentary.

Full Review… | October 13, 2005
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

A real gem of a film.

Full Review… | August 18, 2005
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

A vivid picture of a relationship that, like most, isn't quite picture-perfect.

Full Review… | July 8, 2005
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Tell Them Who You Are radiates dignity, the unusual warmth given off by the frustration of trying to know someone.

Full Review… | June 5, 2008
Paste Magazine

Audience Reviews for Tell Them Who You Are

For the record, I believe that family members should never be involved in recording the life stories of loved ones due to the combination of distance and past closeness which can lead to a skewed perspective and usually involves at least one person with an axe to grind or deep-seated issues. Case in point with the latter is the documentary "Tell Them Who You Are" wherein Mark Wexler attempts to document the career of his father, Haskell, the famed cinematographer. That's the case until Haskell hijacks the proceedings to make it more about him as a person, leaving whatever footage in which would normally be cut and vice versa, as Mark forgets that the first rule of the documentarian is to stay behind the camera as much as humanly possible. Admittedly, there is some great stuff here about "Medium Cool," with a neat anecdote about "Coming Home." And some of Haskell's lesser known movies like "Latino" and "Introduction to the Enemy" definitely sound intriguing.

But getting back to those issues, the documentary seeks to portray Haskell as irascible and whose left wing politics which did not stop him from working with Elia Kazan stopped him from accomplishing much more in a career full of accomplishments.(At the age of 87, apparently he is still working.) Personally, any discussion of paternal issues by the participants only serve to make me feel well-adjusted which is quite the accomplishment. Look, I am not saying we should venerate all artists or gloss over their shortcomings. It's just that I don't care.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Although this is supposedly a documentary about the relationship between cinematographer/filmmaker Haskell Wexler and his son Mark, it's pretty much a cheap therapy session for the son, allowing him to whine for 90 minutes about what a bad father his dad is/was, complete with selectively edited scenes of Dad being a dick. Roll end credits.

The irony is that Mark's central message seems to be that he finds it difficult to live in the shadow of his famous father. So he responds by making a documentary (just like his dad might do) and interviewing a bunch of famous people (George Lucas, Dennis Hopper, etc.) in the process... people he surely wouldn't have had access to if not for his father.

The documentary itself is pretty uninspired, but I enjoyed the inclusion of footage from the senior Wexler's work, especially his lesser seen films.

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