Sarah Polley went behind the camera to look frankly at her family’s past in Stories We Tell.
Canadian actress and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sarah Polley bravely explores her family history through this very personal documentary, Stories We Tell. Polley wants to learn more about her family, especially about her mother, Diane, who died young. So she gathers the Polley family around the table and grills them for information.
Polley’s dad and siblings appear self-conscious and hesitant at first, but soon they grow more at ease answering questions, elaborating on details, and interjecting comments and humor into some very tender topics. There are emotional moments for Polley’s dad Michael, and for Polley herself, while her half-siblings from Diane’s first marriage have their own story to tell. Much of the film’s focus is on Michael. And being a writer, he delivers some profound expressions in response to the Polley history. The courage and candor of each member of the family endears us to all of them.
Stories We Tell
Stories is filled with information that many of us would consider too intimate for public consumption. Yet Polley maintains her filmmaker objectivity no matter what secrets are revealed, no matter how personal. And her honesty doesn’t end there. She lets us witness some re-takes in the filmmaking process, where she asks her father to deliver the same answer a second time. Ultimately, Polley wants to involve us in everything.
Many of us go in search of our past, but few of us would dare to document the family interviews and share our findings with the world. Sarah Polley is up to the task that not all filmmakers could achieve. As the details unfold, you will feel like part of the family. And you will be in awe of the young woman who delivered this intimate process in a captivating film. B+