STORIES WE TELL
Michael Polley, Sarah Polley, Mark Polley, Rebecca Jenkins
Sarah Polley (
WITH Stories We Tell, Canadian actor and fi lmmaker Sarah Polley serves up a unique, dynamically rendered documentary with a difference.
On the surface, Polley’s motives for this project seem straightforward. She never really got to know her late mother Diane, who died of cancer in her early 40s.
At the outset of production, Polley said she believed capturing the defi nitive life story of Diane might help her make sense of a grieving process she was far too young to understand at the time.
However, the key to what this personal project would ultimately become is hinted at in the plurality of its title.
Polley invited a vast array of family members and friends to relate Diane’s biography as they remembered it. The disparities between the recollections of each interviewee become quite pronounced at varying stages in the fi lm, and Polley bravely examines all of them.
Sometimes she pays a heavy emotional cost for doing so. At other times, those involved in the project are forced to confront – and perhaps forever change – their interpretation of the ever- mysterious Diane.
The doco is narrated by Michael, Diane’s second husband, an intriguing presence who could well have been a worthy subject of a similar fi lm.
He has only recently learned there was so much about his late wife he never knew.
The wounds sustained by hearing some time- delayed home truths are still fresh for Michael.
For him to not only anchor the fi lm as its voice but also lay bare his innermost thoughts as its conscience turns out to be a brave and remarkable act.
For other participants, Polley’s project is anything but a therapeutic exercise.
To the fi lmmaker’s credit, she does not leave out any on- camera criticism of her work.
In fact, Polley’s misgivings about Stories We Tell are very much to the fore throughout the fi lm, often becoming a sharp commentary on the ability of documentaries to adequately convey the truth.
Be sure to see this moving, funny and engrossing fi lm with as little advance knowledge as possible. One of the most lasting experiences of the year awaits.