Metascore
91

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    May 8, 2013
    91
    By the end, the rug gets pulled out from under us, showing that even the reality we think we see may be an illusion.
  2. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    May 9, 2013
    88
    The various witnesses tell contradictory tales that turn this into a real-life “Rashomon." The fact that two of the principals — Sarah and Michael, who delivers touching and eloquent on-camera narration that he wrote himself — are accomplished actors adds another level of confusion and interest that help make this compelling storytelling.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    May 9, 2013
    88
    The result, with its flashing perspectives and stealthy wit, is unique and unforgettable.
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May 16, 2013
    88
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    May 16, 2013
    100
    An invigorating powerhouse of a personal documentary, adventurous and absolutely fascinating.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    May 16, 2013
    100
    Sarah Polley's memoir is a poignant, funny and engrossing film, challenging our notions of memory and family mythology.
  7. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    May 17, 2013
    83
    The Canadian actress and director Sarah Polley set out to make a straightforward documentary about her mother, Diane, who died when she was 11, but by the time Stories We Tell was finished five years later, it had become unclassifiable.
  8. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Dec 25, 2013
    100
    Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell is two or maybe three dangerous kinds of movies all at the same time, and handled so brilliantly that the result is a transformative, unforgettable work of art.
  9. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    May 16, 2013
    100
    With its ingenious structure, seamless visual conceits and mordant humor, Stories We Tell is a masterful film on technical and aesthetic values alone. But because of the wisdom and compassion of its maker, it rises to another level entirely.
  10. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    May 9, 2013
    100
    Stories We Tell has a number of transparent virtues, including its humor and formal design, although its most admirable quality is the deep sense of personal ethics that frames Ms. Polley’s filmmaking choices.
  11. 90
    So Polley has gone meta — exuberantly, entertainingly, with all her heart.
  12. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jun 6, 2013
    100
    What a great movie.
  13. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    May 7, 2013
    100
    Polley has gone further into the thorny subject of forgiveness than any of her peers. Her movies ache with ethical quandary; Stories We Tell aches the most.
  14. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    May 30, 2013
    91
    When a film like Stories We Tell comes along, you're reminded how powerful and universal even the most intimate and individual lives can be when captured with intelligence and perspective.
  15. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    May 21, 2013
    90
    Seldom has our modern taste for the confessional mode been so smartly explored. [20 May 2013, p. 123]
  16. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Mar 7, 2013
    100
    Stories We Tell marks the finest of Polley's filmmaking skills by blending intimacy and intrigue to remarkable effect.
  17. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jun 12, 2013
    91
    Plenty of secrets are uncovered before the fadeout, plus another nugget dropped midway through the end credits that may render nearly everything beforehand to be false. That's the nature of intimacies submerged so long then revealed.
  18. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    May 7, 2013
    100
    This wondrous, absorbing little picture covers a great deal of winding meta-territory, reflecting on the ways in which a single family's story can be told—or maybe, more accurately, examining the idea that there's no such thing as a "single story."
  19. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Mar 7, 2013
    100
    Polley tackles painful issues with candour and tact. She has a gripping tale to tell. It's a film that raises questions about the ownership of memory and ownership of narrative.
  20. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    May 10, 2013
    100
    Seriously, one of the most jaw-dropping revelations occurs halfway through the final credits. All of which makes the stories Sarah Polley tells in Stories We Tell an enormously intriguing lot.
  21. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    May 30, 2013
    100
    This is the kind of film that benefits from being experienced with as little prior knowledge as possible. As one watches it, certain questions may arise. But don’t worry — the answers are fascinating.
  22. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    May 8, 2013
    91
    Polley’s fledgling foray into documentary filmmaking is also an investigative mystery, a real-life soap opera, and — most compellingly, perhaps — a searching “interrogation” (the director’s word) of the hows and whys of storytelling itself.
  23. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Jun 24, 2013
    100
    Polley’s fearless personal journey is a huge achievement, a genuine revelation — but the less detail you know beforehand, the better. Go in cold, come out warmed.
  24. Reviewed by: Oliver Lyttelton
    Mar 7, 2013
    91
    Fans of Polley’s work to date will be delighted by a documentary that serves simultaneously as a gripping mystery, a moving record of a family and a fascinating investigation into the nature of truth, memory, and the documentary form itself.
  25. Reviewed by: Sheila O'Malley
    Jun 6, 2013
    100
    A powerful and thoughtful film, it is also not what it at first seems, which is part of the point Polley appears to be interested in making. Can the truth ever actually be known about anything?
  26. Reviewed by: Nick McCarthy
    Mar 18, 2013
    88
    Sarah Polley is much more interested in the malleability of memory and the consequential refractions felt throughout her kin rather than telling a linear narrative.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Aug 25, 2013
    8
    This documentary is a great story about family, love, and the impact of our lives. Sarah Polley does a remarkable job directing this deeply personal story. A- Full Review »
  2. Jun 15, 2013
    6
    Sarah Polley is best known as an actor, but she decided to make this film about her family, specifically her vivacious mother and the affair she had with Polley's father. This film is made up of interviews with every member of her family (and then some), as well as lots of footage from their past. The momentum until she discovers the truth is well-paced and compelling. The last third bogs down in wordy debates about truth and memory (fewer people translates into less energy). There are surprises which upend the entire project, but you'll have to sit thru it to find out. If ur into talky docs, you might find it worthwhile. Full Review »
  3. Jan 8, 2014
    7
    I liked this documentary and what it had to say. The family was easy to like, and while the story does drag considerably by the end, it is effectively wrapped up in a nice way. Full Review »