CRF Blog

New Life in the Documentary Form

by Bill Hayes

In New Life in the Documentary Form for the New Republic, film critic David Thomson reviews Stories We Tell.

Stories We Tell is not just very moving; it is an exploration of truth and fiction that will stay with you long after repeated viewings. For a first screening of this picture is simply a way of getting in training for it. It is fiendishly difficult to review and to praise properly. This is not just documentary, but narrative magic. As one figure in the film says to the director, Sarah Polley, “What a vicious director you are.” The remark is offered with paternal humor, but no great irony. For the speaker has been put through the wringer, and a similar process is waiting for anyone hoping to talk about the picture.

This is a film that will be marketed as a documentary, and you are free to take at face value the immediate signs that Sarah Polley is making a nonfiction inquiry into her own family history. [more]