Film Review: ‘Stories We Tell’ a documentary about an extramarital affair here or there and a secret love child

stories we tell movie posterFilm Review by: Mut Asheru

The documentary STORIES WE TELL tells the story of a mother’s mistakes and the questions that are left in the aftermath of her passing. STORIES WE TELL is a glimpse at how our individual stories are shaped by the stories of others.

Oscar nominated Director Sarah Polley, endeavors to shed light on her family’s ordeal of uncovering her Mother’s (Diane Polley) less than perfect life. It does not waggle its finger at her in shame but rather celebrates her mother for the wonderful person she was mistakes and all. Basically, there’s an extramarital affair here or there and a secret love child. Sarah.

As a fascinating approach, Sarah refers to the talking heads as “The Storytellers”.  All of these storytellers and their reactions to events are fascinating and endearing. The principle narration is performed by Micheal (Sarah’s father) in a warm, rich timbered voice that reminded me of thespian Roy Doytrice. (if you haven’t had the opportunity to check out any audio books narrated by him I suggest you do) Almost immediately Micheal’s writing and voice pulled me in and I found myself thinking…”damn he’s talented…wish I could write like that.”

The question arises a few times as to why Sarah wants to make this film. Others are curious to know what she hopes to accomplish by sharing their family mess with the world. It’s clearly a self-exploration mission through the overlapping tales of others about her entrance into the world.  I think she is perhaps trying to understand herself more by trying to understand her mother. But as someone stated in the film, it’s an impossible task.

This is not a doc of explosive nature. Diane Polley comes to us gently in fragments via past home video footage. Polley skillfully and artfully executes this intimate doc by allowing each person their own memory without one taking precedence over the other.

I fell in love with the cool ass family and loved ones she left behind.


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