Stories We Tell (2012) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • In this inspired, genre-twisting new film, Oscar®-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley discovers that the truth depends on who's telling it. Polley is both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets kept by a family of storytellers. She playfully interviews and interrogates a cast of characters of varying reliability, eliciting refreshingly candid, yet mostly contradictory, answers to the same questions. As each relates their version of the family mythology, present-day recollections shift into nostalgia-tinged glimpses of their mother, who departed too soon, leaving a trail of unanswered questions. Polley unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: always complicated, warmly messy and fiercely loving. Stories We Tell explores the elusive nature of truth and memory, but at its core is a deeply personal film about how our narratives shape and define us as individuals and families, all interconnecting to paint a profound, funny and poignant picture of the larger human story.

  • Actress/director/writer Sarah Polley conducts a series of interviews - "interrogations" as one of her interview subjects calls them - with family, friends and acquaintances. She wants her subjects to talk openly and honestly of their perspective of the "issue" that sparked this documentary, which starts off seemingly about the marriage of Sarah's parents, actors Michael Polley and the long deceased Diane Polley. Sarah's four siblings and her father talk about the issue as a long held family joke that started casually when Sarah was thirteen. Michael also provides a self-written monologue about the issue. That issue ultimately comes to light as the documentary progresses, and which affects Sarah and Michael the most among the living family members. But as that issue does come to light, the question becomes whether the movie is or should be about the issue itself, or if it should be about the perception of interviewees through the stories they tell about the issue. Much will depend on how Sarah ultimately wants to frame the movie through her editing process.

  • A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.


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