The third feature from actor-director Sarah Polley. This documentary focuses on Polley’s own family, more directly at her deceased Mother, Diane, who died when Sarah was only 11. Diane is shown through various old home movies as a lively and engaging woman who caught the eye of a young fellow actor named Michael. Essentially, this story is about how Sarah’s mother and father met, and how she abandoned a future in acting for her family. It’s about truth, memories, and how easily both can be bent and reshaped.
In the very beginning, Sarah asks her brother if he’s nervous. He responds by saying “a little”, which she then says, “It’s going to get worse.” Foreshadowing the film’s narrative and subtly telling us to prepare ourselves.
I think it’s safe to say that Polley had her suspicions of where this personal reflection on her family’s history could potentially conclude. Without spoiling anything, I find it brave of Mrs. Polley to allow her life and history to be showcased. So many different viewpoints and personal memories shared. The whole thing is really just honest and engaging. Though this family is just as charming and friendly as any other, the further the film unfolds, the more we discover that Mrs. Polley had a specific goal in mind while interviewing her family members. With each story told through various eyes, we soon discover this family has a secret unlike most. To watch this secret slowly unfold in the most genuine fashion is truly unique and riveting.
The film has its surprising amount of twists and turns, more than one can honestly expect. It’s incredible to watch a film like this and gain so much perspective on a story about different perspectives. Each perspective stemming from the same foundation of truth, but with minor details tweaked and shifted due to personal reactions to each and every moment. All obvious knowledge, yet so very interesting to be reminded in a unique way.
In the end, Diane was a free spirit. One who lived life to its fullest. With her heart always in the right place, but as human as the next. She was loved and loved. “The Stories We Tell” is one to watch. If not for the engaging truth of Mrs. Polley’s early life and family, then for one’s own personal connections to the themes of love, understanding, past and present, as well as the simple urge to seek answers that help shape the person one can become.
About the movie:
Synopsis: A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.
Director: Sarah Polley
Writer: Sarah Polley
Stars: John Buchan, Joanna Polley, Mark Polley
Runtime: 108 mins