A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.
Sarah's siblings and family friends begin by talking about Sarah's mother, Diane, who died, aged 55, in 1990, when Sarah was 11 . (There's some actual 8mm footage of the family, intermixed with staged footage that has the same grainy look of old amateur filmmaking.)
Sarah's mother was beautiful, and she was vivacious and fun-loving. Sarah's dad was a handsome, decent person, but no one would describe him as vivacious and fun-loving. The marriage wasn't terrible, but it was clear to the couple--and eventually to their children--that it wasn't a good match.
That much information is established in the first half-hour of the movie. Then the question arises as to whether Sarah's dad is really her biological father. Polley decides to dig for this answer, and interview the same people she's already interviewed, although this time asking the question, "Who's my father?" Polley accumulates information bit by bit, and eventually expands her search to include people who knew Diane when she was performing in a play out of town.
As Sarah embarks on this search, the camera keeps rolling, and we go along at her side. It's a fascinating ride, because everyone has part of the picture, but only two people had the answer, and one of them is no longer alive.
Stories We Tell is a quiet, careful movie. There's anger, but no shouting, sadness, but no tears. Sarah Polley is in the middle of it all, but she's credited as the director, not as the star. In a way, the star of the movie really is the late Diane Polley, but she's the one person who can't tell her side of the story. That's what makes the whole thing so fascinating.
This is a movie you will want to see if you enjoy quiet, thoughtful, serious films. It will work equally well on a small or large screen.
- Jun 25, 2014