“I’m interested in the way we tell stories about our lives, about the fact that the truth about the past is often ephemeral and difficult to pin down,” actor/director/writer Sarah Polley says at the beginning of the new trailer for her upcoming documentary, “Stories We Tell,” and that ain’t the half of it. It’s a documentary you don’t want to know too much about, but suffice to say it’s a Polley-led examination of her family’s complicated past told by everyone involved, which leads to a kind of amazing “Rashomon” effect.
And yes, it’s just brilliant and utterly engrossing. It’s a film that’s so damn good and compelling, it made the top 10 lists of Kevin Jagernauth, Oliver Lyttelton and myself last year (we saw it in advance at various film festivals in 2012 and it opened in Canada; and oh yeah, it was within the top 5 for each of us to be precise). Here’s the official synopsis:
In this inspired, genre-twisting new film, Oscar®-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley discovers that the truth depends on who’s telling it. Polley is both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets kept by a family of storytellers. She playfully interviews and interrogates a cast of characters of varying reliability, eliciting refreshingly candid, yet mostly contradictory, answers to the same questions. As each relates their version of the family mythology, present-day recollections shift into nostalgia-tinged glimpses of their mother, who departed too soon, leaving a trail of unanswered questions. Polley unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: always complicated, warmly messy and fiercely loving. Stories We Tell explores the elusive nature of truth and memory, but at its core is a deeply personal film about how our narratives shape and define us as individuals and families, all interconnecting to paint a profound, funny and poignant picture of the larger human story.