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In Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley plays with the documentary format to explore the nature of memory and storytelling, crafting a thoughtful, compelling narrative that unfolds like a mystery.
All Critics (138)
| Top Critics (40)
| Fresh (130)
| Rotten (8)
| DVD (1)
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.
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.
The opposite of a courageous piece of work, Stories We Tell goes out of its way to protect every single person it touches.
Sarah Polley's remarkable Stories We Tell transcends every cliche in this confessional/investigatory genre, and it's one of the year's highlights.
Polley's cine-tribute is a gripping and absorbing meditation on the unknowability of other lives.
Everyone has a different story. I found myself holding my breath listening to them talk. The story twists like a thriller.
Fiercely unsentimental, never nostalgic, [Sarah] Polley's version of the story is simultaneously always trying to get that much closer to the truth.
Stories We Tell is clearly a form of creative catharsis for Polley. Yet through its clarity and sincerity her documentary gathers greater meaning, transcending its humble origins and effortlessly enrapturing the audience with its bittersweet tale.
A finely-crafted and incredibly moving work.
Sarah Polley's funny and engaging documentary is also intelligent - academically and emotionally.
A quasi-Derridan, deconstructionist enquiry by Sarah Polley into her family history.
Stories We Tell" unmistakably originates from a singular vision, but also serves as a testament to what happens when individual perspectives blend into one, creating something far greater than the sum of its parts - in this case, a truly special film.
Polley surprises us with the brave and unreserved way that she exposes her family's secrets while trying to extract a meaning from her quest, even if she doesn't seem to know exactly how to end it, going a bit longer past what should have been its conclusion.
Quite dull, honestly. Who really cares that the mother had an affair and a child by another man which she passed off as her husband's? I'm sure it happens every day and not really of interest to anyone except the family involved. Certainly not enthralling viewing as the subject of a documentary.
Even if it is from Sarah Polley's own life.
Though in my opinion it stops just short of being completely brilliant -- partly because of problems outlined within the movie itself -- Stories We Tell nonetheless succeeds by embracing its own unique and earnest nature.
A thoughtful, intimate biography concerning one's family from director/actor Sarah Polley, specifically centering around her mother and whether or not her father was in fact her mother's husband. Polley takes a Rashoman-esque stance in how she portrays her family and the stories she has them tell, each sounding mostly familiar but each containing details not included in the other versions. The result is an enamoring documentary about identity, how family shapes us, and how memory holds up over time. It is genuinely surprising how utterly fascinating this movie is, but Polley always maintains the human element that makes this film so special, every answer she is able to get out of her family feels real and human, with members of her family proving to be honest and not afraid to hold very personal details back from the viewer. One of the best films of 2013.
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