Skip to content

DVD Review: Stories We Tell

May 28, 2013

Stories We Tell DVD CoverStories We Tell – A Mongrel Media Release

DVD Release Date: May 21st, 2013

Rated PG for language and tobacco use

Running time: 108 minutes

Sarah Polley (dir.)

Sarah Polley (writer)

Jonathan Goldsmith (music)

Sarah Polley as Herself

Michael Polley as Himself

Diane Polley as Herself (archival footage)

Harry Gulkin as Himself

Our reviews below:


Stories We Tell DVD Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Every family has stories that get passed down through generations, changing shape and taking different sides depending on who is relaying the series of events.  This is the idea behind Stories We Tell, a deeply personal documentary that follows iconic Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley as she pieces back together the story of her mother and questions her own origins, through candid interviews with her family and friends.

As an actress and director, Sarah Polley is clearly fascinated by the way that family events eventually become stories that remain as real as the people telling them, and her personal life makes for an emotionally compelling and very touching film.  There is a sense of intrigue as we discover more of the elements that make up this complex family situation, and everything is nicely edited together with a striking sense of narrative.  Among the best documentaries of last year, Stories We Tell is highly recommended on DVD.

The DVD includes no bonus features.


Stories We Tell DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Filmmakers are story tellers.  And sometimes the stories we tell are our own.  Director Sarah Polley’s documentary is an intimate look into her own family’s life – and the secret of her own parentage.  Told through reenactments as well as interviews with family members, friends, and other key players in the story, we get an interesting look at how the storyteller as much makes the story as the tale itself.  This is a case of a story that if you didn’t know it was true you would think was written.  As much as the film is a story of real life – it is also a film about looking at what stories we all have in our own lives, be they big or small.

For those who are familiar with Sarah Polley – or even those who aren’t – Stories We Tell is a well made documentary that takes us through the story of one family’s life.


Stories We Tell DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

In Stories We Tell, Canadian filmmaker and actress Sarah Polley tells a story; the convoluted story of her family and her place in it. She interviews her siblings, father, and friends of her late mother Diana.  Each of these people, in their own ways, recall Diana’s hyperactive and distractible, yet loving personality and lifestyle.  Through these interviews, along with old footage and some reenactments, we find out that Sarah Polley’s lineage may not be as clear cut as she once thought.  This leads to her searching for who her father truly is, thus discovering what family really means.

Stories We Tell provides an interesting look at a fascinating family.  While the convolutions make things a little hard to follow in the beginning, we discover things about Sarah Polley’s family as the film goes one, which gradually makes everything become clear.  The plot line is a mystery, with many surprises along the way.

But what struck me the most is the underlying sense of love that Sarah Polley’s family has for each other.  Sure, things aren’t perfect, but the family has always made the best out of their circumstances.  Stories We Tell is a well made documentary about what it means to be a family.


Stories We Tell DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Every family has its secrets.  How the stories are told depends on who is doing the telling.  Writer and director Sarah Polley’s deeply personal documentary, Stories We Tell takes viewers along a story telling journey with her as family secrets are unravelled.

When Sarah Polley was eleven, her mother, actress Diane Polley, died of cancer.  Sarah’s father Michael Polley was left to raise her alone.  Sarah’s siblings and other family members would joke that Sarah didn’t look anything like her dad.  Truth is, another man was likely her biological father.

Told through interviews with family and friends, old family footage and a second camera that films the filmmaker, Stories We Tell is a process where piece by piece the truth unfolds. The result is an intriguing, touching and wonderfully honest story about family ties being more than sharing DNA.  Narrated by her dad Michael, Sarah Polley has put together a well-made documentary worth checking out.


Stories We Tell DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Stories We Tell is an investigation by the distinguished Canadian actor and director Sarah Polley of her family history as told by her father Michael Polley, four older siblings and various friends of her parents, particularly concerning her mother Diane Polley who died of cancer when Sarah was eleven. The stories are illustrated with home movies seamlessly mixed with Super 8 style re-creations (like the recent film The Imposter).

Though they were both actors, Michael and Diane were polar opposites. Once married, the introverted Michael got a serious office job while the vivacious Diane continued acting and partying. In 1978 Diane left Toronto for almost two months to appear in a Montreal play. Upon her return she found she was pregnant with Sarah at 42. The documentary pieces together the various accounts of that period to answer questions about Sarah’s origins, with very touching results.


Consensus: Following Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley as she uncovers secrets about her own family, Stories We Tell is a deeply personal documentary that becomes a touching and well crafted look at the stories that make up all of our lives.  ***1/4 (Out of 4)

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: