Documentary Review : Stories We Tell (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.7
Rotten Tomato Score – 95%

Directed By – Sarah Polley

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

I’ve always been a fan of Sarah Polley. I really enjoyed her work as a director and writer for Away From Her which got her a nomination from the Academy Awards and her acting has always been enjoyable. Stories We Tell is a documentary about Sarah Polley…sort of. Her mother Diane Polley who died before her time of cancer is the focal point of Sarah’s inquiries to her family, all of which is documented by Sarah herself. What starts to develop is a story which then becomes the main theme of the film in which the origin of how Sarah entered this world comes into question. I’ll leave it at that. It’s a wonderful thing to watch unfold and I don’t want to spoil it.

This film hit me pretty hard. I feel comfortable saying that I am currently in therapy for some issues that involve my family. While that is as far as I’m willing to disclose, I can say that the stories that are told from each family member are ones that I constantly find myself telling to my doctor. I mean that in a way that we all tell people stories of our family. Our family is what we have known since our earliest memories. Until we eventually move out on our own, our families are what we wake up to and fall asleep with. This film was one of the most intimate things I’ve ever watched because The Polley family was talking about Diane Polley with such emotion and love that I felt like I was a close friend giving somebody comfort. It was an emotional ride told with precision and heart from Sarah. It also happened to be a gripping and captivating story with twists and turns that go on up until a shocking reveal in the films closing credits. It was as I was in the rooms with these people as they laughed and cried as they recalled their lives growing up with their mother. It was a connecting experience.

The film isn’t going to be for everybody. It’s made of talking heads and reenactments using super 8 footage but it really hit home for me. We’re going to be telling stories of our lives with our families for years to come. Some will be good and some will be bad but they are the stories we know best and the ones that mean the most in the end.


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