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Stories We Tell
Genre Documentary
 
Review:

Every family has their secrets and your family may be protecting you from one of them. In Stories We Tell, indie film-maker Sarah Polley gets intimate and incredibly personal by turning the camera on her own family history. David Lynch turned Laura Palmer's portrait into a compelling small town mystery drama in Twin Peaks and Polley has swathed her haunting and moving family memoir in a similar way.

Stories We Tell begins by unpacking the story of her mother, Diane, whose extroverted nature and ceaseless energy won her friends and memories. Old family footage blends with re-enactments to compose a living photo album with unresolved feelings sticking the pages together. Polley asks her family members to tell the story of their mother to try and extract a thread of truth at the heart of their collective story.

Polley uncovers her mother's character in an unflattering light, examines her marriage to Michael Polley and then sets about trying to discover if a long-running joke about her being adopted had a kernel of truth to it. Stories We Tell presents her family through a series of personal interviews weaving together a confessional mystery like a detective. As the documentary starts, you feel like you don't belong, listening to the sort of private narrative usually reserved and only significant to one community.

However, Polley turns this public "photo album" viewing into a global mystery about family and storytelling. Instead of feeling like it's someone else's story, Polley turns herself into the subject and conduit. As interviewer and youngest sibling, her perspective gradually becomes ours and we're made to feel like the late-to-the-game outsider. This makes the story all the more moving as she connects the dots (and us) to her past and present.

The documentary is engaging as it peels back each page, yet does border on glorified navel gazing as Polley goes full circle by examining the documentary itself. This interesting diversion adds to the run time, breaks the flow and may have been better served as a special feature. While it hangs on a little bit too long, Stories We Tell will stay on even longer in your memory as an original and special documentary feature.

Stories We Tell is a bold, elusive, honest and touching family memoir from Sarah Polley. Her personal journey plays out like a mystery, brought to life by vivid and realistic recreations that make you feel like they were anticipating a documentary all those years ago. She taps into universal themes and extracts a meaningful story and truth from one of those places best forgotten.

The bottom line: Intimate

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7.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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