Over two days, my "Movies To See" list is unspooling on The Dissolve. Here's your chance to check them off,…
Stories We Tell
Filmmaker Sarah Polley interviews members of her family as they look back on decades-old events.
This movie was even more beautifully sad than watching a guy on the subway ride home eat an entire Papa John's pizza by himself.
And let me tell you my friends, that was a mighty sad sight (he was using the dipping sauce -- or at least that's how I remember it).
Stories We Tell is a moving and incredibly candid family portrait as filmmaker, Sarah Polley, explores the mysteries surrounding her mother. Beginning as a rather traditional biography of her late mother it gradually transforms into a far richer documentary that touches on identity, memory, the fallibility of truth and the power of storytelling to create a deeply personal yet universal work.
As with all the best stories it is better to experience Stories We Tell with as little prior knowledge as possible. Yet whilst the film’s narrative takes a series of surprising diversions and features several revelations there is something refreshingly ordinary about this personal discovery. One of the contributors even questions why other people would be interested in their…
The only way this movie could have been more made for me is if the opening credits included a dedication that read: "This movie was made for Adam Kempenaar."
Full discussion available here.
A few notes that didn't make it into the conversation:
- A perfectly Polley-esque touch that I failed to mention about my autobiographical short film... My wife, then girlfriend, played the younger version of my mom.
- A key to the success of this film, I believe, is Polley's obvious fairness, generosity of spirit and lack of guile. Everything we see is a capital-C construct with her as the puppet master, but there's no overriding sense of calculation that might come through with other directors. It's all…
Completely riveted by Polley's reconstruction of a family secret from multiple angles until the degree to which she was aestheticizing her life became clear. At a certain point, she comes out and tells us the themes of the documentary—in that respect, the last 20 minutes of the film are like the psychiatrist scene in Psycho.
"i swatted my fly!"
yes. unremarkable by nature, remarkable by design. Kiarostami 101, but indelibly articulates schism of being / remembering.
works in spite of itself, at times. but then again, don't we all?
also, it may not really count, but Polley includes what i'd like to consider to be the greatest credits stinger of all time.
2014 is turning out to be a rather meagre year for music in my opinion, but one of the albums that does stand out thus far is How To Dress Well’s ‘What Is This Heart?’ One of my favourite songs on the album ends with the following utterance: “A truth like that that opens up, kind of begets other truths, and when you discover truths like that, how you think about truths within that are concealed, it does sort of make you alter the way that you look within, and that opens up.” Little did I know that this quote was taking from ‘Stories We Tell’, a 2012 autobiographical documentary in which director Sarah Polley interviews her father(s), sisters, brother…
An extra half star for that killer last line.
I’m not normally a documentary type person. I’ve probably watched a handful in my entire life, but after seeing this, I’ll be watching more in the future. Sarah Polley is a brilliantly talented director and you should definitely make time to see this absolutely moving film.
With Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley allows her mysterious personal narrative to unfold while examining the impact of choices made by a human life, the ownership of personal history, the nature of storytelling, secrecy and memory, and truth. Life and reality may not be what it seems, and neither is Polley’s documentary. She blends actual footage and photographs of her past with recently filmed versions, attempting to help illustrate the story – none of which is explicitly revealed to the audience. Polley’s story certainly isn’t universal in content. Thematically, however, the story of Diane Polley and the impact she made, applies to all.
A fascinating, intelligently crafted documentary filled with genuine emotion.
Better than I remember, and plays beautifully with an audience. Gets really reflexive in the last act, but manages to come out with meaning and a great Documentary Dad still intact, despite being a bit too explicit in each semi-climactic statement of theme. Delivers surprises with a clever, kind heart, and the patented late-story reveals have a sincerity atypical in biographical cinema.
Some have remarked that the acted recreations and family footage aesthetics come off as jilting during a late reveal. I'd mostly agree, but the construction of the film (nearly) makes a worthwhile distinction in retort - that narratives show us what we want to feel, and not necessarily what we actually do.
I can't wait to see what Sarah Polley does next. Guessing it'll make me feel things, in whatever order makes the most sense.
Wow. This is such a moving and intriguing documentary. The way Sarah Polley weaves together the interviews and the footage and the multiple spins on the narrative is fascinating. There is a lot of emotion here and it comes out in unexpected ways. A really beautiful personal film.
you better believe i would give Sarah polley a kiss
- Beyond the Hills
- Spring Breakers
- Upstream Color
- Stories We Tell
- 20 Fingers
- Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
- Almayer's Folly
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
- Border Radio
A list of films directed by women, in alphabetical order by director. The notes show the director's country, name and…
- Before Midnight
- Only God Forgives
- 12 Years a Slave
- The Rover