In this intensely personal, potentially embarrassing work, actress-turned-director Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz) gathers her brothers, sisters, father and family friends in order to piece together a portrait of her late mother, Diane, who died of cancer when Sarah still a child.
That alone is hardly remarkable enough to merit a feature-length look. Note, however, that the movie’s title is Stories We Tell — stories, plural. Diane left behind a Big Secret — more of a mystery, really — that Sarah is determine to explore to a definitive conclusion, even if the solid answer raises even more questions. The trailer may give it away, but I will not. Suffice to say, as with any film, the less you know going in, the richer the experience.
Even Polley harbors a bit of deceit, playful though it may be, in her approach to making this project. This grants extra layers that might be viewed as pretentious, if only her tale weren’t such a remarkably intimate and honest one. She’s a strong, brave woman for telling this story so publicly, and she’s also a powerful filmmaker. Expect to hear more about Stories We Tell in the year-end awards chatter, which it deserves. —Rod Lott
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