Stories We Tell

Stories We Tell ★★★½

Stories We Tell is very close to being really fantastic. I can feel it trying to work its magic on me but for a few reasons I resisted. The first is the length, a few minutes less than two hours is too long for a documentary like this. Or, if you're going to keep this length, spend more time on the more interesting elements, those that come at the end of the film and turn it into a movie about the titular stories we tell rather than the interesting but too mundane story at the center of the film. I get that this was a big deal for director/subject Sarah Polley, finding out that her father was not her biological dad and her stumbling upon her "real" dad. There's plenty of drama there, of course, but it takes up too much time when there's something so much more interesting to talk about. The last 20 or so minutes of this movie concerns itself with itself, the documentary takes a turn for the meta and the interesting as Polley and her family and friends start to ask why she is making this movie and what she's trying to get out of it. It's about, funnily enough, the stories we tell about ourselves and each other and that's a fascinating thing to explore. Unfortunately there's just too little of it and the movie wastes most of its time on the set up rather than the payoff.

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