Starring: Sarah Polley, Michael Polley, Harry Gulkin, Mark Polley, Joanna Polley
Directed by: Sarah Polley
Synopsis: A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.
This documentary from writer/director/actor Sarah Polley has been getting some great reviews, and award season buzz. The synopsis sells it as something of intrigue. A mystery that slowly unravels as various family members stories conflict with each other. I’ll be honest, that didn’t really come across when I was watching this. Don’t get me wrong, Stories We Tell, was a decent enough watch, but I just think the hype got the better of it in the end.
I won’t delve into the story too much as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. Basically Sarah Polley interviews various members of her family to get to the truth of rumours that have floated around for some years.
Her family members all seem happy to talk, sharing stories. I was kind of expecting all of their stories to conflict in a way that left you wondering who was telling the correct version of events, or if indeed some members were holding back the truth. But it just seemed like everyone told their story and it was largely similar to everyone else’s story. We get to the truth eventually and the mystique has gone, with run time to spare.
Stories We Tell isn’t a bad documentary by any stretch, in fact it is a good insight into the lives of a ‘normal’ family so to speak. That is kind of the trouble though. I’m watching a movie about someone else’s family. Do I care enough? Maybe if there really are some startling revelations, but there weren’t really. So I wound up watching home movies of another family going through life, the same as any other family of a certain age has super 8 movies of their kids running around, riding bikes and unwrapping Christmas presents.
There are some emotional moments for various members of the Polley family, Sarah’s relationship with her dad Michael in particular, but the key reveal just didn’t hold enough weight I don’t think.
I think Sarah Polley is obviously talented (check out Take This Waltz for evidence) but maybe she should have just kept this one in the family.