Sarah Polley digs up family secrets in Stories We Tell | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

Sarah Polley digs up family secrets in Stories We Tell 

"Stories We Tell"

Photo by Ken Woroner

"Stories We Tell"

In the documentary Stories We Tell, Canadian actress-turned-director Sarah Polley points her camera at the people in her life to get the skinny on her late mother, Diane. Deemed the life of the party by family and friends, Diane died from cancer when Polley was little.

Polley grew up looking so different from her siblings that the possibility of her having a different father became a running gag among the kinfolk. In this film, she actually investigates to see if her mom had someone on the side. There are reasons to be suspicious: Before Polley was born, Diane was vilified in the Canadian press for leaving her husband and kids from her first marriage.

As in her previous two films, Stories We Tell has Polley focusing thematically on a trio of M's: matrimony, monogamy and memories. Her 2007 debut, Away From Her, had the still-radiant Julie Christie giving an Oscar-nominated turn as a woman losing her memory to Alzheimer's, causing her to drift away from her still-loving husband. Her second film, last year's Take This Waltz, seemed a thinly veiled account of what happened to her mom, with unpredictable married gal Michelle Williams contemplating having an affair with another man.

If you haven't heard what Polley discovered, I won't spoil it for you. I will say that as earnestly as Polley goes about her investigation, she still can't resist adding artificial dramatic effects to this already riveting story. Along with throwing in archival Super 8 home movies, she also has staged Super 8 footage with actors hamming it up as her family, which ends up being both redundant and annoying. Eventually, Polley reveals that this is her way of telling her version of her family's history, making this a movie less about her familia and more about the accounts and perspectives people assemble when they recall the past.

And yet, the stories that Polley's charming Canuck clan tell are fairly consistent. Although there are certain parties who would prefer if the focus were only on their story—for their version is what really went down!—there aren't any outside accusations of embellishing or stretching the truth. In fact, this is the most functional tale of dysfunctional-family drama I've ever heard.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Giving up childish things."

Tags:

Film Details

Stories We Tell
Rated PG-13 · 108 min. · 2013
Official Site: storieswetellmovie.com
Director: Sarah Polley
Writer: Sarah Polley
Producer: Anita Lee
Cast: Pixie Bigelow, Deirdre Bowen, Geoffrey Bowes, John Buchan, Susy Buchan, Tom Butler, Andrew Church, Peter Evans and Justin Goodhand

Trailer


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Stories We Tell

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Comments

Just saw Pitch Perfect 3 trailer. Looks like its going to be another year of fun ride. Incredibly excited to …

by Andrew190 on Dueling college a cappella groups in Pitch Perfect (Film Review)

We'd be hard pressed to find a free local weekly with film reviews this poetic. Your writers translate complex ideas …

by Aims Arches on Isabelle Huppert Unforgettably Avenges Herself in Elle (Film Review)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

Just saw Pitch Perfect 3 trailer. Looks like its going to be another year of fun ride. Incredibly excited to …

by Andrew190 on Dueling college a cappella groups in Pitch Perfect (Film Review)

We'd be hard pressed to find a free local weekly with film reviews this poetic. Your writers translate complex ideas …

by Aims Arches on Isabelle Huppert Unforgettably Avenges Herself in Elle (Film Review)

Ever since the surprise success of the Fox TV show Glee audiences have been exposed to the world of choirs, …

by philip190 on Dueling college a cappella groups in Pitch Perfect (Film Review)

robertm748: You mean without warning, apart from the very first paragraph of his review???

by Neil Morris on Amy Adams’s Authenticity Elevates Tom Ford’s Glam Pulp Fiction in Nocturnal Animals (Film Review)

Nathan Gelgud is unsure whether the disenfranchised classes in England are whiter than in the US? Really?

Well, …

by Eileen Smyth on Aliens land in an English slum in Attack the Block (Film Review)

© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation