Tell Them Who You Are (2005)



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

Tell Them Who You Are Photos

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 fiercely opinionated and difficult to work with, and Mark makes no secret of the fact that he's had a prickly relationship with his dad. Mark Wexler takes a detailed look at the life and work of Haskell Wexler in Tell Them Who You Are, which examines Haskell's career in the movie business, his relationship with his family (including his three marriages and his frequent lack of respect for Mark), and how he's viewed by his friends and peers. Interview subjects include Jane Fonda, Paul Newman, George Lucas, Michael Douglas, Milos Forman, Ron Howard, Dennis Hopper, and many more.
R (for language and some sexual images)
Documentary , Special Interest , Television
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Critic Reviews for Tell Them Who You Are

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (26)

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.

October 13, 2005
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

A real gem of a film.

August 18, 2005
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

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

July 8, 2005
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A lively, often hilarious yet profoundly moving experience.

June 21, 2005
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

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.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Mark Wexler, a capital C conservative photojournalist, puts his camera on his famous dad, cinematographer extraordinaire Haskell Wexler, then 83 years old, in an attempt to come to terms with him and find out how love and mutual respect can blossom from fractious differences. It's a stunning piece of personal documentation--funny and unforgettable.

Manny Casillas
Manny Casillas

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.

Joe Barlow
Joe Barlow

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