Saturday, December 14, 2013

Stories We Tell

For her latest film actress/writer/director Sarah Polley turns the camera on her own past in a series of inter-cut interviews with family and friends of her mother dragging the family's darkest secrets into the light including her mother's affair around the time of Polley's conception raising life-long questions about her true parentage.

Stories We Tell offers several different viewpoints of the past, old home video, video recreations using actors, and emails and letters from over the years read directly into the tale. The father who raised her provides the narration (under the direction of his daughter) adding yet another unique spin to the story, especially given how those family secrets change his relationship with his daughter.

The result is an emotional and spellbinding tale of a search for understanding and truth and how we remember and retell personal stories that likely delivers far more for both Polley and audiences than she originally intended.

Because Polley is interviewing her own family about events that have been thought over and discussed for years, the documentary has a raw and intimate feel and allows the director to push her family (into what she refers to as "an interrogation process") into getting the emotional responses she needs as she strives to piece the overall story together from the memories and anecdotes that are shared. If at times a bit messy or even disorganized, we can forgive the film as the entire process of its creation is a journey of discovery for Polley and we're just along for the ride.

Although the single-disc DVD lacks any extras except the film's trailer, the documentary sells itself without need for further features.

[Lions Gate, DVD $19.98]

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