Stories We Tell Review

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Director Sarah Polley follows her dramas Away From Her and Take This Waltz with this hard-to-classify and very personal doco, a study of the stories families tell each other and the stories we tell ourselves, regardless of whether either are in any way ‘true’.

She’s seen encouraging her dad Michael (a popular Canadian actor himself) to read his own self-penned narration in a studio, and we launch into what is ostensibly a memoir of Sarah’s mother Diane, who died in 1990 after a life spent acting (mostly in smalltime theatre), bringing up children and trying for more spiritual fulfillment than that offered by her husband Michael, who was happy to be solitary and frustrated her deeply.

Seen in striking footage, Diane is discussed by Sarah’s older siblings Susy, Joanna, John and Mark, but they seem as surprised as we are when this becomes something else entirely, and questions are asked: should these facts be made public? What are the wider ramifications for the family? And, as Sarah subtly suggests, can we ever truly know the ‘truth’ about anyone?

A hard movie to discuss, but suffice to say that this pulls the rug out from under the viewer several times in its exploration of secrets, lies, family, memory - and the very nature of documentary filmmaking itself.



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