STORIES WE TELL

Every family has secrets and stories they tell about them. Sometimes the versions differ depending on who is spinning the tale and the vagaries of memory. Actress Sarah Polley has a doozie of a story about her family, specifically her mom Diane. STORIES WE TELL could have been a nice “based on fact” drama, or an average documentary that gave you the big reveal early then tried to explain how all the pieces fit to make it a part of her family history. Instead, Polley tells the story as an unfolding mystery that plays out like a huge game of “telephone”. At first it seems to just be sweet memories about her late Mom. Her brothers and sisters talk about her in very raw interviews that are funny, touching and sweet. Her father ties it all together, reading a long letter to his youngest daughter, that is used as narration throughout the film. But eventually the big reveal comes and not knowing Polley’s biography, I had no clue it was coming. Then there are other pieces to the story tied to that reveal that are spun as stories by family and friends. I know you must be thinking, why should we care about Sarah Polley’s family drama? In the beginning, you ask yourself the same question. But her family and friends are such characters and are so engaging they draw you in. It’s also a credit to Polley’s talent as a storyteller that she brings you in slowly, builds the drama, then gives you an ultimately satisfying payoff. Polley does a wonderful job making us care about her story. I could reveal the big family secret, but it might spoil your enjoyment of the movie knowing what is coming. Also, if you really care, you can Google it. This is an outstanding film that should be considered next January when they start talking best documentary feature nominees. Congrats to Sarah Polley, I loved your story! — Alan Yudman

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