Stories We Tell

2013

Stories We Tell

Critics 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.

94%

TOMATOMETER

Reviews Counted: 138

78%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 14,750

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

78%
Average Rating: 3.9/5

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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 Attractions

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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
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News & Interviews for Stories We Tell

Critic Reviews for Stories We Tell

All Critics (138) | 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.

Dec 31, 2013 | Full Review…
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.

Dec 31, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
Boston Globe
Top Critic

The opposite of a courageous piece of work, Stories We Tell goes out of its way to protect every single person it touches.

Dec 31, 2013 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Sarah Polley's remarkable Stories We Tell transcends every cliche in this confessional/investigatory genre, and it's one of the year's highlights.

Dec 31, 2013 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Polley's cine-tribute is a gripping and absorbing meditation on the unknowability of other lives.

Jun 27, 2013 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Everyone has a different story. I found myself holding my breath listening to them talk. The story twists like a thriller.

Jun 25, 2013 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Stories We Tell

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.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

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

½

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.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

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