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Stories We Tell (2012)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 6,659 users   Metascore: 91/100
Reviews: 42 user | 157 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.

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Director: Sarah Polley
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Polley ...
Himself - Storyteller
Harry Gulkin ...
Himself - Storyteller
Susy Buchan ...
Herself - Storyteller
John Buchan ...
Himself - Storyteller
Mark Polley ...
Himself - Storyteller
Joanna Polley ...
Herself - Storyteller
Cathy Gulkin ...
Herself - Storyteller
Marie Murphy ...
Herself - Storyteller
Robert MacMillan ...
Himself - Storyteller
Anne Tait ...
Herself - Storyteller
Deirdre Bowen ...
Herself - Storyteller
Victoria Mitchell ...
Herself - Storyteller
Mort Ransen ...
Himself - Storyteller
Geoffrey Bowes ...
Himself - Storyteller (as Geoff Bowes)
...
Himself - Storyteller
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Storyline

In this inspired, genre-twisting new film, Oscar®-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 ... Written by The National Film Board of Canada

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements involving sexuality, brief strong language and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 January 2013 (Greece)  »

Also Known As:

Histórias que Contamos  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$27,053 (USA) (10 May 2013)

Gross:

$1,599,038 (USA) (4 October 2013)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Himself - 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.
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Connections

Featured in Maltin on Movies: The Great Gatsby (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Skinny Love
Written by Justin Vernon (as Justin Deyarmond Edison Vernon)
Performed by Bon Iver
Courtesy of Jagjaguwar
100% obo Justin Deyarmond Edison Vernon
c/o April Base Publishing (ASCAP)
Administered by Kobalt Music Publishing America, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Truly unique biography
25 June 2014 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

Stories We Tell (2012) is a documentary written and directed by Sarah Polley. This movie is unusual because it's actually a biography of the filmmaker and her family, narrated by her father, "starring" her siblings and herself, along with Polley's relatives and family friends. But the film isn't straight biography or autobiography. It's a quest film as well.

Sarah's siblings and family friends begin by talking about Sarah's mother, Diane, who died, aged 55, in 1990, when Sarah was 11 . (There's some actual 8mm footage of the family, intermixed with staged footage that has the same grainy look of old amateur filmmaking.)

Sarah's mother was beautiful, and she was vivacious and fun-loving. Sarah's dad was a handsome, decent person, but no one would describe him as vivacious and fun-loving. The marriage wasn't terrible, but it was clear to the couple--and eventually to their children--that it wasn't a good match.

That much information is established in the first half-hour of the movie. Then the question arises as to whether Sarah's dad is really her biological father. Polley decides to dig for this answer, and interview the same people she's already interviewed, although this time asking the question, "Who's my father?" Polley accumulates information bit by bit, and eventually expands her search to include people who knew Diane when she was performing in a play out of town.

As Sarah embarks on this search, the camera keeps rolling, and we go along at her side. It's a fascinating ride, because everyone has part of the picture, but only two people had the answer, and one of them is no longer alive.

Stories We Tell is a quiet, careful movie. There's anger, but no shouting, sadness, but no tears. Sarah Polley is in the middle of it all, but she's credited as the director, not as the star. In a way, the star of the movie really is the late Diane Polley, but she's the one person who can't tell her side of the story. That's what makes the whole thing so fascinating.

This is a movie you will want to see if you enjoy quiet, thoughtful, serious films. It will work equally well on a small or large screen.


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