Director: Sarah Polley
Actors: Sarah Polley, Michael Polley, Harry Gulkin
Runtime: 109 minutes
Release Date: September 26th, 2013
Reviewed by The Mole(s)
MO: I think we’re going to have a hard time reviewing this documentary without giving away some of its mystery - BUT LET’S GIVE IT A GO!
This was better than I expected as the story at the core of the film was much more intriguing than I had originally thought it would be.
LE: I had an inkling this doco would be good, as it was so well received at the Sydney Film Festival - even after reading the rave reviews though, I still wasn’t ready for how emotionally invested I became in it. It’s such a great story, and so well told. You are right about Sarah Polley - I just wanted to watch her entire back catalogue immediately after this screening.
MO: “And here I thought you just gave me head…” I really need to watch Go again.
I loved how it was filmed, there were the multiple layers of story telling and then there was the filming of the documentary, as well as the documentary itself and the found footage and the recreated scenes… and it should have been a complete mess but it worked perfectly, you almost felt like you were part of it.
LE: It was so very intimate - from the scenes with her siblings, to the scenes with her father, and even herself. A very brave undertaking - it was a soul-baring exercise; nothing was too intimate to expose, and that vulnerability was part of its charm. It was actually very beautiful to see such a strong familial bond as well - Sarah Polley somehow convinced her family and friends to reveal themselves and some of their deepest emotions - you got the feeling that she must be very loved in order for them to comply with such a request.
MO: It was like a whole Polley family cathartic experience, although there were times when I thought to myself, “this could only happen within a family of actors.” She really managed to find that perfect balance in a film, it was simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. It also made me a little sad at times to be an only child… haha - but not for long.
LE: Hahahaha, yes, siblings can be both a blessing and a CURSE.
It’s going to be so difficult to talk about the story itself without giving anything away, but WHAT A STORY! An homage of sorts to her mother, and a better central character you could never find - she seemed like such a marvellous and vivacious person. How could you blame Sarah Polley for wanting to share her story?
MO: Also at a deeper level there was that very human aspect of storytelling and how we all view and recount interactions and events so differently. I really liked how she introduced this concept of “editing” and everyone had their own opinion on it, it was quite simple but really powerful and no where more obvious than in filmmaking, when the simplest of edits can change a whole story.
LE: Every story has multiple accounts, depending on those who partake in the events - I enjoyed that she acknowledged that there is an element of truth in all accounts.
Just the amount of selflessness within the characters that surrounded her mother, it was just so beautiful. I do recall at one point both of us trying very hard to hold back tears (BECAUSE WE ARE BOTH ROBOTS).
I can’t wait to watch this again.
MO: I’m always very wary of the “truth” documentaries often claim (because I’m both a robot AND a cynic), what I really liked about Stories We Tell was that it never tried to be the whole “truth,” it was a very candid film and an honest portrayal of a woman and the extraordinary effect she had on the people in her life.
LE: It seemed like she was trying, and for the most part, succeeding in offering as objective a glimpse as she could.
I loved this documentary - one of my favourites of all time. Four choc tops.
MO: Four from me too and please add “Sarah Polley; director” to our back catalogue of things to watch.