If you watch this movie expecting it to be as advertised, you may be disappointed, or at any rate bemused. The thumbnail summaries that I have read, as well as the movie's own introductory passages, all present it as an exploration of how different people create different stories from the same event. I think this may be what the director set out to do. But in fact, in the end everyone pretty much agrees about what happened, with one or two notable exceptions.What Sarah Polley ended up creating is a meditation on what breaks families apart, and what holds them together. The insights are <more>
important, and often counterintuitive, and sometimes startling. What captured my interest, and moved me deeply, was not the detective aspects of the story -- not the revealing of family secrets -- but the gradual unraveling of their causes and effects. For this, the format of the film -- interviews with many family members and family friends -- is absolutely crucial. Some reviewers have complained that the interviews become boring and repetitive. I admit that some patience is required in hearing them out, but it is amply repaid.I am also grateful to Sarah Polley for trying to do something different on screen. In the featureless landscape of contemporary cinema, Stories We Tell is a landmark.
I saw this at the Canadian top Ten Film Festival at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto in early January of 2013. It was preceded by a "Mavericks" Q&A featuring Director Sarah Polley with the Festival's Artistic Director. Polley is best known in the USA as an actress in films such as Splice. This is her third feature as director, all of which have been chosen for the Canadian Top Ten. Even though it is a documentary about her family, it is quite riveting, with more than a few surprises. The interview style, camera work and narration are both innovative and effective. One of the <more>
interviewees asked her if she has any idea what she is doing, and she said no. After you see this, I think you will disagree. Sarah Polley is one to watch . . . as a writer-director.
Filmmaker/actress Sarah Polley deserves to be titled in that order, if it makes a huge difference. Yes, she's a luminous actress, but over the past 4 years and 3 films, Polley has ascended into something bigger than that... a woman crafting tremendous, personal works of art that transcend her young age.Polley's latest film, "Stories We Tell" is a documentary, turning the lens on herself and her own family as she scalpels away at the truth of the infectious personality of mom Diane and exactly what happened in the late 70's. Using direct interviews, grainy home video <more>
footage and even actor-portrayed recreations, "Stories We Tell" charts the timeline of her family with judicious investigation. Why doesn't she look like the rest of her family? What causes a marriage to fade into boredom and familiarity? And what's the responsibility of future generations to trace the truth of past ones? All of these questions are answered in Polley's capable hands, at great personal cost to all.In actuality, Polley has probably been answering these questions for years now. Her debut film, "Away From Her" was a moving and real depiction of a woman's slow ascent into sickness, featuring a wonderfully nuanced performance by Julie Christie and, obviously, based on the slow progression of cancer that eventually took Polley's own mother when she was just 11 years old. Last year, Polley released "Take This Waltz"... a film starring Michelle Williams as a woman torn between the comforts and boredom of marriage and the exciting possibility of an affair. I was on the fence about the film, amazed by certain moments of spontaneity but taken aback by the weird outbursts of Williams' character. After seeing "Stories We Tell", it's clear "Take This Waltz" was more autobiographical than anyone realized. Both films, seen as a fictional and then non-fictional rendering of the same woman- Polley's mother- compliment each other and deepen the conflicted and quizzical feelings Sarah must have about her mother. While most of us can appreciate a parent in the here and now, Polley is recreating her through grainy images, interpretive writing and tough questions.In "Stories We Tell", a unique structure is used where her own father reads aloud from a text we find out at the end of the film where it came from and Polley frames the images around the meta-textual musings. It's ironic and somehow perfect that the most memorable images of the documentary are stationary reaction shots of Polley as she listens, her face or mouth or eyes tightening or twitching in discovery as the words are made. Not only is it a human moment, but a touching one that forces the audience to discover and relate to her own discovery. The best non-fiction works, like those of Jonathan Caouette or Ross McElwee, not only mine the potential of a great personal story but they allow us unsettling peaks behind the emotional curtain of the author or storyteller. Sarah Polley has created a brave undressing of her family that not only belongs in this class of personal docudrama, but stands head and shoulders above anything else this year so far.www.itsamadmadblog2.blogspot.com
Sarah Polley's touching documentary wallows in greatness both in cinema and emotion... (by ClaytonDavis)
Sarah Polley continues to become one of the most innovative and inventive directors working today and its proved by what she spills out on the silver screen in her newest endeavor Stories We Tell. A compelling and personal documentary about her own life, Stories We Tell blends and fuses the magic of non-fiction with the imagination of the cinematic mind.Telling the story of her own inception, family life, and personal struggle with her own sense of being, Sarah Polley invites the audience into a world that otherwise would seem shameful and dreary but ends up rising triumphant and inspired. <more>
While documentaries often take a very serious, somber, and issue-driven approach, Polley's film proves that real life can be just as magnetic without an epiphany of theatrics or cheap camera tricks. Stories We Tell takes cinematic risks that pay off tremendously in both execution partnered with Iris Ng's stunning cinematography. This is one of the best things that the movies have offered this year yet.When one takes on a personal subject like their family, you always run the risk of starting your film with a wall between you and the audience from the first frame. Family is one of those things that you can only appreciate when you're a part of the madness. If I sit here and tell you countless stories of brothers and sisters bickering, falling in an apple ditch, or simply the origin of our creations, a disinterest may become prevalent because what makes my story any more real than yours? Unless we have some extraordinary circumstances, family is all relative and subjective. Polley's family feels real. While there are painstakingly clear alignments between my family life and hers, the film goes beyond anything that documentaries have offered viewers before. It's not too often you grow to care about members of a family in a 108 minute stretch unless your last name is Brady, Seaver, or Winslow. It's amazing to watch one story, told from different perspectives, yielding different results and emotions. Why Polley decided to do it, I'm not so sure. Maybe it was her own way of making sense of her unfortunate hand that was dealt or perhaps it was a way of release, living with so many unanswered questions, possibly still until this day. I'm grateful she let me in to tell her story. We should all be grateful.There are surprises, innuendos, and things that the film embraces that must be saved for anyone on the first viewing. All I can say is, Polley has likely set a new precedent and encouragement for filmmakers to do similar experiments in the future. A film such as this that follows the life of people like Jack Nicholson or Angelina Jolie would definitely build an anticipation for many to see. Stories We Tell is kind to soul and heartwarmingly relevant. A film to be remembered. The film played at this year's Montclair Film Festival and is scheduled to be released May 17, 2013.
"Stories We Tell" is rich and affecting storytelling at it's finest. (by swp_1988)
Sarah Polley has set the stage in mind for many years to tell a simple story. Much like the process of forming a story, things are always taken back to the storyboard and new influences are introduced. Sarah ultimately made the natural choice to deliver this story by simply setting the basis and allowing each party to tell the story as they know it, in every detail from each individual memory.Stories We Tell works a unique twist on the documentary format and allows the audiences into the life of the family and friends who knew the filmmakers mother, Diane Polley. An eccentric ball of energy <more>
with the appearance of an open book, she might have really been a big mystery and her secrets could cause a rift throughout all those connected. Family and friends from all corners step up to the plate and what's heard are a melding of scripted order and the unscripted nature of each individual and their memories of the events that unfolded. At times it's an interview, at others it's a humorous interrogation; we witness the mystery unfolding in a truly compelling, warm and emotional fashion. It's a wonderful case study on human beings and how we shape ourselves throughout a lifetime and the events that can change our lives forever. It's fascinating to see how we all perceive moments and how our memories contain them. Different characters have different takes and yet the feelings resonate the same.Sarah Polley took the right path and remained on the sideline and behind the camera until it was absolutely paramount. The real people tell their stories and actors portray history with an uncanny authenticity. It delivers the reality and the real people involved without bogging down the narrative. This is rich and affecting storytelling at it's finest.
A unique and deeply moving documentary. Actress/director Sarah Polley had always had a suspicion that she was the product of an affair her mother had when she was doing a play in Montreal. This was often played as a family joke, even between her and her father Michael Polley , but as the years went on she decided she wanted to know. And she eventually discovered that the stories were true. When all was said and done, she decided to make this movie about it, and the results are stunning. It's an interesting story in its own right, and Polley infuses it with so much love, especially for <more>
the father who raised her, the father she only recently discovered and her long dead mother who died when she was only around 10 . But there's something more, something surprising, with the way she constructs and then deconstructs the documentary format. Only near the very end does it reveal how brilliant the whole thing is. My only complaint is sort of minor, given how successful the film is, but I did wish there was a bit more detail given to the family history near the beginning. It led to a bit of confusion as the film went on. But it's not much and it's easy enough to figure it out by the end.
Stories We Tell 2012 is a documentary written and directed by Sarah Polley. This movie is unusual because it's actually a biography of the filmmaker and her family, narrated by her father, "starring" her siblings and herself, along with Polley's relatives and family friends. But the film isn't straight biography or autobiography. It's a quest film as well.Sarah's siblings and family friends begin by talking about Sarah's mother, Diane, who died, aged 55, in 1990, when Sarah was 11 . There's some actual 8mm footage of the family, intermixed with staged <more>
footage that has the same grainy look of old amateur filmmaking. Sarah's mother was beautiful, and she was vivacious and fun-loving. Sarah's dad was a handsome, decent person, but no one would describe him as vivacious and fun-loving. The marriage wasn't terrible, but it was clear to the couple--and eventually to their children--that it wasn't a good match.That much information is established in the first half-hour of the movie. Then the question arises as to whether Sarah's dad is really her biological father. Polley decides to dig for this answer, and interview the same people she's already interviewed, although this time asking the question, "Who's my father?" Polley accumulates information bit by bit, and eventually expands her search to include people who knew Diane when she was performing in a play out of town. As Sarah embarks on this search, the camera keeps rolling, and we go along at her side. It's a fascinating ride, because everyone has part of the picture, but only two people had the answer, and one of them is no longer alive.Stories We Tell is a quiet, careful movie. There's anger, but no shouting, sadness, but no tears. Sarah Polley is in the middle of it all, but she's credited as the director, not as the star. In a way, the star of the movie really is the late Diane Polley, but she's the one person who can't tell her side of the story. That's what makes the whole thing so fascinating.This is a movie you will want to see if you enjoy quiet, thoughtful, serious films. It will work equally well on a small or large screen.
It is rather unusual for a director to shoot a documentary which pivots on her private family life, being the one behind the camera to interview others, her side of story mostly remains elusive, actress-turned-director Sarah Polley's latest acclaimed documentary about the startling discovery of her biological father is a pure revelation and a wondrous crowd-pleaser. Starts with family members recall her late mother Diane Polley who passed away from cancer in 1990 , an actress, a twice-married woman with 5 offspring , a freewheeling soul lives everyday to its fullest. The narrative takes <more>
a midstream swerve when a secret is slowly to be debunked, after Diane's death, Sarah and her siblings would find out her liaison with a man who would be Sarah's biological father when she was in Montreal for a short spell to act in a play. There is a small twist of finding her father, but it is not the keynote of Sarah's film, like she mentions in the film, what intrigues her the most is the way stories are being told, and how can one get the truth when the only one who is able to reveal what is the absolute truth is long gone? So Sarah glean information and trivia from participants, friends, onlookers and gossipers, the most poignant one is from her father Michael Polley, whose instant response is affecting and genuine, the family bond surmounts bloodline lineage, which is an important criterion elevates human beings as a supreme specie on the earth. Interposing the interviews with real-life footages and re-enactment of the past story gives the film a distinctive shade of perusing an old photo book or watching a vintage super-8 video playing out. Every family has its own snags and their complications, what makes the Polleys' so compelling is save the provocative scandal aside, the film actually anatomizes deeper into the source material and transpires itself to a reflective reminder of how one's life could only be experienced once and any kind of recount is futile, as long as it involves more than 1 person, there is always a murky territory where certain feelings are unfathomable since only myself knows exactly how I feel and what has happened to me, not even soul-mates would have that power. The film is a new entry into my Top 10 films of 2012, and the best documentary feature of 2012 so far, Sarah Polley doubtlessly is courageous and tactful, a firm spearhead on behalf of female counterpart in the male-skewing director sector.
Is it a documentary or not? When the film is over, you're not certain. Not so much because of the unbelievable story as because of the Super 8 clips. Are they authentic or not?Well, you become rather certain finally, but it's after a quite silent merry-go-round ride, there everything is turned upside down when you didn't expect it. It's the daughter trying to reconstruct the relation between her mother and father. It's made in a very touching way and many family members and friends of the couple take part.Saying more would perhaps mean spoiling it all. But probably you <more>