Sarah Polley is an actress and Academy Award nominated screenwriter (Away From Her which she also directed) who first truly captured my attention when I saw her in the movie My Life Without Me where she played a dying woman who chooses to keep her impending death a secret from her loved ones and live her remaining days on her terms while making sure the people she’ll leave behind will be left okay. It is a beautiful film that was missed by most people.
In her new documentary Stories We Tell (95% on RottenTomatoe), Polley turns the camera on her own family and their accounts of her mother’s life, death and secrets she may have taken with her. The movie has an unusual structure, using old family footage, interviews, recreations and glimpses into the documentary process itself to weave us through a story filled with drama, suspense, secrets and mystery. It’s as if we are along for the ride as the filmmaker discovers for herself some major bits of information about her own life. It’s a daring exploration of perception versus truth and how the stories we tell are often, even unwittingly, crafted to advance a narrative to our liking.
Stories We Tell is available this week on DVD and for rental on Amazon’s streaming service. It is likely available elsewhere too. I highly recommend you give it a watch.