Stories We Tell is a documentary film written and directed by Sarah Polley who is a known director in Canada for her political activism. Her new movie, Stories We Tell is where Sarah Polley uncovers layers of different memories and myths to find the truth in a family of storytellers. Stories We Tell features John Buchan, Joanna Polley and Mark Polley. This film was first shown in the 69th Venice International Film Festival and it will have a limited screening in theaters on May 17th 2013. Check out the critical response on Stories We Tell below:
“Stories We Tell: A Heartfelt Documentary By Sarah Polley
Sarah Polley’s nervous, whimsical documentary Stories We Tell is further proof that this gifted actress and possibly more gifted writer-director does nothing easy—and might even have a compulsion to make things harder than they need to be.
The film centers on Polley’s mom, ¬Diane, who died 23 years ago ¬(Sarah was 11) and maybe had an affair that maybe produced Sarah. As painful odysseys go, this one’s relatively straightforward: Did Diane or didn’t Diane? Let’s have a look at the DNA … But in a blog post published on the National Film Board of Canada website the day of the movie’s Venice debut, Polley confessed that “personal” documentaries make her squeamish: “I’ve seen some brilliant ones,” she wrote, “but they often push the boundaries of narcissism and can feel more like a form of therapy than actual filmmaking.” More fascinating to her was the way her mother’s story changed depending on who was ¬doing the telling: “So I decided to make a film about our need to tell stories, to own our stories, to understand them, and to have them heard.”
So Polley has gone meta—exuberantly, entertainingly, with all her heart. She opens Stories We Tell with a quote from fellow Canadian Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, which she’s not so incidentally adapting for the screen: “When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion … It’s only afterwards it becomes anything like a story at all.” This quasi story’s quasi narrator is Sarah’s father, a ¬transplanted British actor named ¬Michael, who is not only seen but seen ¬being directed by Sarah, who occasionally has him reread more delicate passages about his wife’s ¬infidelity. “What do you think of this ¬documentary being made?” she asks each of her siblings in turn. “Are you nervous?” “A little.” “It’s going to get worse.” It does get testy with one of Polley’s brothers, who evinces surprise bordering on indignation that Diane didn’t abort her final child. “Thanks,” says Sarah, off-camera.
A producer named Harry Gulkin with whom Diane spent time in the seventies (when she briefly left her family in ¬Toronto to appear in a play in Montreal) tells Sarah that he rejects any version of events that isn’t his. He says he needs to “control the story.” But so does Michael, who turns out to have written the narration he has been reading and in which he refers to himself in the third person. ¬Toward the end of Stories We Tell, Polley holds on each of her subjects for a few beats, alone with his or her private memory, his or her “truth.”
Click here to read the entire review at New York Magazine.
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