Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Storyteller Adoption Movie Review (Spoilers)

When Abby shows up at Rosemary’s nursing home, she is hungry, dirty, and haggard. Rosemary introduces Abby as her big sister, which seems unlikely, given that Rosemary is elderly and Abby seems to be around eight years old. When social services arrive, Rosemary asks her granddaughter Maggie to take Abby home; Maggie has adopted previously, and she has space to take in another child. She reluctantly agrees to take in Abby for one night. Although this upsets Maggie’s daughter Jen, Maggie anticipates that the placement will be very brief.


The Adoption Connection

Maggie and her husband adopted Jen; Jen was a distant relative of Maggie’s husband. However, Maggie’s husband died a year ago, and the bond between Maggie and Jen has never been particularly strong. Abby’s arrival at the home upsets teenage Jen, who felt that she should have had a voice in the decision and generally feels disenfranchised from the home in the aftermath of her adoptive father’s death. She discovers a secret that adds to her anger at, and distance from, Maggie. Jen had been abused in foster care and had engaged in some self-harming behaviors prior to being adopted.

Abby’s past is shrouded in mystery. Like Dennis in Martian Child, Abby seems to have a fantastical explanation for who she is, and there is some willingness on the part of her new family – and of the viewer – to believe her story, but in truth, Abby has been abused, and is now on the run, fearful of being taken back to her abusers. On two occasions she attempts to run away from Maggie’s care because she is fearful of being taken away and returned to an unsafe situation.

Strong Points

Abby finds a loving family in Maggie, Jen, and Rosemary.

The Storyteller is a story of healing, rebuilding, and belonging.
A line in the film captures a helpful and powerful truth, “Because you love me as I am, we are family.”


It’s a little confusing at times whether Abby’s story is true or not, and some kids could take it literally when elderly Rosemary tells young Abby that Abby must watch after Maggie; some kids have felt the responsibility of caring for adults rather than being cared for, and this aspect of the film could be tricky for them.

Some thematic elements push this film out of bounds for younger viewers.


The Storyteller is a beautiful, encouraging film that tugs appropriately on my heartstrings in the same way that ReMoved does. It gets a strong recommendation for adoptive parents, foster parents, and folks considering becoming foster or adoptive parents, and it could also be helpful for teens who will become foster or adoptive siblings when their parents become foster parents.

Questions for Discussion

Most behaviors make sense within a given context; why do you think Abby tried to run away? How would you respond if you were parenting her?

Where did Abby’s fanciful backstory come from? What purpose did it serve in her life?

What does Abby most need in order to feel safe?

Why was Jen unhappy with Abby coming into the home? How did her feelings change?

Other Ideas

No comments:

Post a Comment

Open Adoption Blogs