Title: Stories We Tell
Director: Sarah Polley
Writer: Sarah Polley
It is rather unusual for a director to shoot a documentary which pivots on her private family life, being the one behind the camera to interview others, her side of story mostly remains elusive, actress-turned-director Sarah Polley’s latest acclaimed documentary about the startling discovery of her biological father is a pure revelation and a wondrous crowd-pleaser.
Starts with family members recall her late mother Diane Polley (who passed away from cancer in 1990), an actress, a twice-married woman (with 5 offspring), a freewheeling soul lives everyday to its fullest. The narrative takes a midstream swerve when a secret is slowly to be debunked, after Diane’s death, Sarah and her siblings would find out her liaison with a man who would be Sarah’s biological father when she was in Montreal for a short spell to act in a play. There is a small twist of finding her father, but it is not the keynote of Sarah’s film, like she mentions in the film, what intrigues her the most is the way stories are being told, and how can one get the truth when the only one who is able to reveal what is the absolute truth is long gone? So Sarah glean information and trivia from participants, friends, onlookers and gossipers, the most poignant one is from her father Michael Polley, whose instant response is affecting and genuine, the family bond surmounts bloodline lineage, which is an important criterion elevates human beings as a supreme specie on the earth.
Interposing the interviews with real-life footages and re-enactment of the past story gives the film a distinctive shade of perusing an old photo book or watching a vintage super-8 video playing out. Every family has its own snags and their complications, what makes the Polleys’ so compelling is save the provocative scandal aside, the film actually anatomizes deeper into the source material and transpires itself to a reflective reminder of how one’s life could only be experienced once and any kind of recount is futile, as long as it involves more than 1 person, there is always a murky territory where certain feelings are unfathomable since only myself knows exactly how I feel and what has happened to me, not even soul-mates would have that power.
The film is a new entry into my Top 10 films of 2012, and the best documentary feature of 2012 so far, Sarah Polley doubtlessly is courageous and tactful, a firm spearhead on behalf of female counterpart in the male-skewing director sector.