Stories We Tell Movie Review
Sarah Polley discovers a secret about her family. Since she's a director, she did what any director would do (or not): she put her entire family in front of a camera and made a movie about it. Stories We Tell is a surprisingly riveting documentary about relationships and things families normally don't talk about. Like parental sex.
Polley plays detective as well as director by interviewing - or interrogating, if you will - her father, siblings, friends and other relatives to paint a "clear" picture of her mother, who sounds like she was a bit of a free spirit trapped in a marriage that was too confining for her. In other words, she may have slept around a bit.
The family, including Polley, seems to have accepted this fact about their mother. No subject is off limits, from the intriguing albeit not-out-of-the-ordinary relationship between mother and father to oral sex behaviors. This is stuff most children would never ask, let alone want to know, about their parents. Polley captures it on film and lets the whole world see.
Polley mixes interviews with family videos, reenactments and formal, poetic voiceover to turn her family's past into an engrossing narrative where facts, stories and memories often contradict one another. The movie captures so very well how different people recall and perceive events differently, and yet also shows that through collation the truth can be revealed.
Stories We Tell is about an ordinary family. It may not sound like much to go on, but Polley's craft turns her ordinary family into riveting storytelling. Stories We Tell is a story worth watching.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.