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Stories We Tell

“When we’re in the middle of a story, it isn’t a story at all,” a man reads from a text into a mic at the beginning of Stories We Tell. Nearby, monitoring the recording process and occasionally prompting him, is his daughter Sarah Polley, the well-regarded young Canadian actress who has recently found success as a filmmaker (Away From Her, Take this Waltz). The stories in her movie’s title, and the ones the man at the mic, Michael her father, refers to are about her family and her late mother Diane. Michael is reading from a memoir he wrote about his marriage to Diane, and two or three crucial discoveries Sarah made investigating her life and her mother’s.

Diane, a Toronto actress and casting agent, took secrets to her end, despite being regarded as self-expressive and guileless by some of her friends. There is nothing awesome or freakish in what Sarah learned, but it certainly altered Diane’s “story.” It’s not always clear what Sarah had in mind for her movie to convey, or how she regards its relevance to other people’s families. She, her father, her siblings and some friends give seemingly candid testimony about what they recall and feel, and a disconcertingly ample supply of old home movies-it can seem that someone had a camera whenever any family members got together-helps spin out the developing story. It’s a strange effort, yet it’s also about the ordinary evasions and assumptions people bring into their interpersonal relations. Everyone in it seems to be simultaneously sincere, yet aware of their part in a dramatic arc.

Watch the trailer for Stories We Tell

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