Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Stories We Tell

Stories We Tell

Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements involving sexuality, brief strong language and smoking.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: May 17, 2013 Released by: Roadside Attractions

Uniquely drawing on her personal experiences as well as from those closest to her, 33-year-old Canadian Sarah Polley (director of the wonderful Away From Her) locates a fascinating verisimilitude and ambiguity that makes for a modern personal variation on a masterful work like Rashomon. One that is relevant from the aspect that so many of us can relate to it on an individual and familial basis.

Her cinema verity that is Stories We Tell uncovers much in her family history that may sag a little for some before concluding most gratifyingly. It's also a shrewd commentary on presentation and the narration itself that goes beyond examination of her charming late mother Diane, who passed away before Polley entered her teens.

Following Diane (who became a casting agent after small acting roles in Canada) who lost custody of her children from her first marriage later married Michael Polley, Sarah's father, who has warm recollections of her with their older children. The joke the siblings play on notably younger Sarah is of Michael not being her "real" dad.

The documentary sharply confers the adage of truth being stranger than fiction with only some home footage of her mother and when an actress fills the role in rundown archival "stagings." Especially from an earlier time in Montreal when she had a small part in a regional play and had known Harry, a respected producer.

There are tricks to this surprising ode of a detective story as the thoughtful director is seen going through takes with an actress. Though Stories We Tell isn't really destined for much commercial success, it reveals how the actress (from The Sweet Hereafter and Go two Indies for example) and filmmaker has blossomed as an artist from the shadings and memories imprinted from learning about her mother. What really is subjective that make up the stories of us and our families as thoughts can change from observances from the wistfulness and joys of those who've cast quite an influential spell on our lives.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Stories We Tell        B+                     B+ 

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