Stories We Tell (2013) - Rotten Tomatoes

Stories We Tell (2013)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: 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.

Movie Info

In this inspired, genre-twisting new film, Oscar (R)-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley discovers that the truth depends on who's telling it. Polley is both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets kept by a family of storytellers. She playfully interviews and interrogates a cast of characters of varying reliability, eliciting refreshingly candid, yet mostly contradictory, answers to the same questions. As each relates their version of the family mythology, present-day recollections shift into nostalgia-tinged glimpses of their mother, who departed too soon, leaving a trail of unanswered questions. Polley unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: always complicated, warmly messy and fiercely loving. Stories We Tell explores the elusive nature of truth and memory, but at its core is a deeply personal film about how our narratives shape and define us as individuals and families, all interconnecting to paint a profound, funny and poignant picture of the larger human story. (c) Roadside Attractionsmore
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements involving sexuality, brief strong language and smoking)
Genre: Documentary
Directed By:
Written By: Sarah Polley, Michael Polley
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 3, 2013
Box Office: $1.6M
Runtime:
Roadside Attractions - Official Site

Cast

Michael Polley
as Narrator/Storyteller
Harry Gulkin
as Storyteller
Susy Buchan
as Storyteller
John Buchan
as Storyteller
Mark Polley
as Storyteller
Joanna Polley
as Storyteller
Cathy Gulkin
as Storyteller
Marie Murphy
as Storyteller
Robert MacMillan
as Storyteller
Anne Tait
as Storyteller
Deirdre Bowen
as Storyteller
Victoria Mitchell
as Storyteller
Mort Ransen
as Storyteller
Geoffrey Bowes
as Storyteller
Tom Butler
as Storyteller
Pixie Bigelow
as Storyteller
Claire Walker
as Storyteller
Rebecca Jenkins
as Diane Polley
Peter Evans
as Michael Polley
Alex Hatz
as Harry Gulkin
Peter Evans
as Michael Polley
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Stories We Tell

Critic Reviews for Stories We Tell

All Critics (127) | Top Critics (40)

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.

Full Review… | December 31, 2013
Slate
Top Critic

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… | December 31, 2013
Boston Globe
Top Critic

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… | December 31, 2013
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

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… | December 31, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

What began as a searching personal journey ends as narcissistic family therapy masturbation.

Full Review… | April 28, 2015
Philadelphia Weekly

What "Stories We Tell" has to offer viewers above all else, is the lesson and harsh fact that no matter how closely we hold someone in our hearts, we never really know them one hundred percent.

Full Review… | March 21, 2014
Cinema Crazed

Audience Reviews for Stories We Tell

½

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.

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Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

Polley surprises us with the brave, unreserved way in which she exposes her family's secrets while trying to extract a meaning from her quest, even if she does not seem to know exactly how to end it, going a bit longer beyond what would have been its better conclusion.

blacksheepboy
Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

Stories We Tell Quotes

Storyteller: When you're in the middle of a story, it isn't a story at all but rather a confusion, a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood, like a house in a whirlwind or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard are powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all, when you're telling it to yourself or someone else.
– Submitted by andrew v (2 years ago)
Storyteller: When you're in the middle of a story, it isn't a story at all but rather a confusion, a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood, like a house in a whirlwind or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard are powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all, when you're telling it to yourself or someone else.
– Submitted by andrew v (2 years ago)

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