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).
This is less a film than it is an intricate examination into the art of storytelling, told in the form of an intimate documentary. Written and directed by Sarah Polley (Dawn of the Dead, Mr. Nobody), it begins as a slight and seemingly mawkish insight into the life of Ms Polley’s family, told via archive footage and interviews, occasionally interspersed with her Father’s narration. As the film progresses, however, it becomes clear that things are nowhere near as simplistic as they seem and that Polley has…
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.
I will have to revisit. Started to have the feels and just couldn't complete it.
I tend to think the use of talking head interviews with the occasional piece of old (or faked old) footage to distract us from the lack of real content is just about the worst way to put together a documentary. The old adage "Show, don't tell" seems to be especially true of cinema and yet so many documentaries just tell and tell and tell - often not anything interesting. Certainly you wouldn't sit down and read most of the drivel you hear in these interviews so interest only comes from emotive soundtracks and some clever editing.
The static talking technique is fine if you simply wish to inform but it's about the most boring way to tell a story with…
Polley is undoubtedly a talented filmmaker and it takes no small amount of bravery to put this type of personal story onscreen for the world to see. The film is cleverly assembled and several of her family members, especially her actor father, are entertaining storytellers themselves. Clearly the film attempts to be about more than just the Polley family story, as it ambitiously attempts to reflect on how all stories are owned and manipulated by the teller. I simply found the many manipulations that Polley uses in making this film to compromise the nature and "truth" of what she was telling us. I began looking for the rabbits in the hats and "man behind the curtain" and grew more disengaged…
A lot better than I thought it'd be but not the masterpiece people make it out to be.
La historia para mi fue irrelevante, pero lo que es verdaderamente importante y se logra resaltar con este documental es la resonancia de los hechos y la manera en que se cuentan. Presentando diferentes versiones y perspectivas de una sola historia, y demostrando como al reconstruir el pasado se pueden descubrir tantas cosas, que ya sean sobresalientes o no, marcan las vidas de las personas.
Soooo much to think about, so much to think ...
It might be a testament to the prevailing attitudes of Canadians that Stories We Tell treats what could have been a salacious story with such civility. This even-handedness allows all the interviewees the ability to to look at the past with a clarity afforded by rational thought which in turn allows the film to strive much deeper than, "who the hell is my father."
To do this, the director Sarah Polley creates a completely transparent documentary where she doesn't hold anything back on revealing the artificiality of the film. She clears the air with an opening montage showing how she set up all the interviews and the relationships between them and herself and she reveals all the documentary functions behind…
It's a documentary based on a family and the tangle of relationships that spring from their interactions.
Diane, a stage actress has a fling and conceives a child over a weekend who grows up and begins seeking answers about her true father. It is when this daughter discovers her father and hears the wonderful story of her mother who died young, she decides to share it with the world.
Stories We Tell is a masterclass in human emotion and the often overlooked importance of family. It explores the various vantage points of everyone who knew Diane and hears from them the wonderful tales of this fascinating woman.
And as the narrative progresses, touching upon many heartwarming topics like divorce and…
Wow. Every family has secrets. This one just puts the laundry on the line for all to see.