Fine Line Features | Release Date: January 25, 2002
7.2
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 25 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
17
Mixed:
5
Negative:
3
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8
SteveG.Apr 20, 2006
I usually hate it when people say "If you didn't like it, it's because you didn't understand it." But I can't help but think that myself when I read many of the reviews of Storytelling (or any Solondz film, really). They I usually hate it when people say "If you didn't like it, it's because you didn't understand it." But I can't help but think that myself when I read many of the reviews of Storytelling (or any Solondz film, really). They cast it off as a mean-spirited 'black comedy', and that Solondz has contempt for the characters he's created. However I can't help but notice that the only people who are actually judging the characters in that light are these critics themselves. (He even has Giamatti say he "loves these people". Maybe it should have been Solondz himself on-screen.) Solondz, knowing this tendency of his critics, directly confronts them in the scene where "American Scooby" is being screened. They are laughing at the main character, completely rejecting his worth as a human being, and basking in their superiority. But even with this scene in the film, the critics still just don't 'get it'. It's as if they can only understand films where the narrative is completely spelled out for them, with low-dimensional characters, and ham-fisted sentimentality (ala American Beauty). In effect, Solondz gets the last laugh, with these critics doing nothing but proving his point. Expand
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7
DavidC.Sep 24, 2006
The relationship between the "fiction" and "nonfiction" ends up being far more interesting than the stories themselves, which are plagued by caricature and stagey directing. All of this belies the fact that this is an entertaining, The relationship between the "fiction" and "nonfiction" ends up being far more interesting than the stories themselves, which are plagued by caricature and stagey directing. All of this belies the fact that this is an entertaining, provocative film. The second half of "nonfiction" is impressive in the way that it brings both the film and the audience into self-referential territory. Whether you found the humour amusing (as I did) or mean-spirited is a matter of taste. Expand
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5
BKMJul 13, 2013
The biggest problem I had with Todd Solondz's pitch black and relentlessly cynical portrait of modern life is that there is not one single character in the whole thing who generates any sense of empathy or understanding. I'm not one whoThe biggest problem I had with Todd Solondz's pitch black and relentlessly cynical portrait of modern life is that there is not one single character in the whole thing who generates any sense of empathy or understanding. I'm not one who insists that moves all be warm and fuzzy, but it would be nice to at least be able to feel something for any of these characters. Instead they are all selfish, mean and self deluded individuals. The fact that I didn't have any response one way or the other to any of them or their actions suggests that Storytelling is not nearly as provocative as it is trying to be. Expand
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9
Anti-hollywood5Apr 8, 2012
Really intriguing, interesting, intense and original. This movie is obviously a reflection of Solondz childhood the young child being a younger version of himself. Very Moving and provocative film.
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8
SpangleSep 14, 2016
Am I the only one who cannot understand how this is a "comedy"? This is not pitch black. It is tragedy. I admit to laughing at times (such as the line "So you're saying that without Hitler we wouldn't exist?"), but as a whole, Storytelling isAm I the only one who cannot understand how this is a "comedy"? This is not pitch black. It is tragedy. I admit to laughing at times (such as the line "So you're saying that without Hitler we wouldn't exist?"), but as a whole, Storytelling is a heartbreaking tale. What that tale is truly about is diverse, as it feels like this film is simply about rejection and life as a whole. Life is unfair and senseless with Todd Solodnz having serious contempt for that harshness and the unlevel playing field we all face. A truly hollow viewing experience, Storytelling is a tough film to assess simply because it just leaves you feeling defeated and empty above all other feelings.

The theme of rejection is quite clear from the get go, in both the "fiction" and "non-fiction" sections of the film. Marcus (Leo Fitzpatrick) writes a story from the heart about feeling normal and not being a freak, in spite of having cerebral palsy. Despite this, his story is harshly criticized by his professor Mr. Scott (Robert Wisdom). As a result of this rejection, Marcus dumps his classmate girlfriend Vi (Selma Blair) who then goes on to having violent, rapey sex with Mr. Scott. When Vi tries to write about it, it is criticized as being unbelievable, sexist, and racist, despite her pleas that it is true. The same thing occurs in the non-fiction section as Toby Oxman (Paul Giammati) has been rejected in all of his endeavors. The same lies ahead for Scooby Livingston (Mark Webber), who is the focus of a documentary shot by Toby. A slacker with no goals as of yet, the documentary is played for Scooby's classmates who all laugh and mock the poor kid.

Now, what does Solodnz have to say about all of this rejection? Well, it is ultimately captured in the focus of Toby's documentary. An unhappy life for Toby has led to him wondering if the same path lies ahead for current students. Are they all doomed to be unhappy and turn out the same as himself? Well, Solodnz's film emphatically concludes to the affirmative. With a deep anger towards this harshness, Solodnz lashes out by demonizing Mr. Scott in the "fiction" section and killing Scooby's family in the "non-fiction" (note how Consuela kills them, who is looked down upon by the family). Both sets of characters resoundly reject those around them, are incredibly priviledged and prejudiced, while also being self-obsessed and narcissistic.

This ties into the unfairness of everything in the film. In the "fiction" section, Marcus is a kid trying to overcome his disease, yet faces obstacles at every turn and feels like a failure. Vi is raped, yet nobody believes her and writes her off as a racist. In the "non-fiction" section, Scooby is mocked for being lost. Toby is written off as a loser, even by the audience. Brady (Noah Fleiss) is a relatively nice kid, yet he winds up in a coma after a freak football accident. Consuela (Lupe Ontiveros), the Livingston's family housekeeper, is fired simply because the Livingston's youngest son Mikey (Jonathan Osser) is a privileged and spoiled jerk who seems unable to feel any empathy whatsoever. This, of course, comes after Consuela's son is executed after being on death row. Maybe he deserved it, but Consuela certainly did not. Throughout the film, Solodnz is obsessed with examining unfairness and this unlevel playing field through the eyes of the disenfranchised, physically disabled, and the misunderstood. In many ways, these mirror himself as his films have often been written off by critics or simply misunderstood. Fortunately, Solodnz will not lash out by killing them all, but they should take this film as his letter of contempt.

As a film, Storytelling is incredibly well-written, creating engaging characters left and right. Both the "fiction" and "non-fiction" section create characters that I want to explore more and almost regret that the film is so short. As it stands, however, the characters are well developed with little in the way of exposition. This is largely in part to Solodnz's ability to create deeply relatable characters and trust in his audience. He trusts us to get these people and we most certainly do at every turn.

The key to understanding Storytelling lies in Toby's documentary in my personal opinion. Many label this a comedy and Solodnz as "cruel" for mocking these characters. Yet, he is simply showcasing the contempt audiences have for these characters. He presents them in an unbiased manner and begs you to feel bad for them. Yet, all we can do is laugh. This is truly tragedy at its very finest as Storytelling leaves you hollow and empty as you watch these characters pushed down and left for dead at every turn without any hope for their futures. Scooby will fail out. Toby's film will fail. Consuela will never find steady work again at her age. Heartbreaking, taboo, and deeply misunderstood, Storytelling is a stirring look at rejection and the unfairness of society with Solodnz lashing out violently at both.
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8
TrailesqueJan 27, 2017
No doubt many will find these two dark comedies to be disturbing and weird, but they are well worth checking out. Two short films for one price. The first is a satire of liberal, literate college students. Robert Wisdom is fine as theirNo doubt many will find these two dark comedies to be disturbing and weird, but they are well worth checking out. Two short films for one price. The first is a satire of liberal, literate college students. Robert Wisdom is fine as their predatory writing professor. In the second, an aspiring documentary filmmaker (Paul Giamatti) takes a look at a well-off suburban family and the high school the kids attend. I don't want to reveal much about the so-called plot, but Solondz is a master at throwing dark, satirical elements into a narrative, humorously revealing the dark underside of things. Expand
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