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Stories We Tell

~Monday~ The first free movie I streamed using my new Amazon Prime subscription was the documentary Stories We Tell.

I first heard about this film back in May of 2013, when Terry Gross interviewed the actor-director, Sarah Polley, on Fresh Air. Here's the 38-minute segment, if you're interested.


The trailer:

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The 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.


    - Written by The National Film Board of Canada


My thoughts about the film:

  • At one point in the film, I was reminded about how when I came out, so many people shared with me very personal secrets of theirs that they had been keeping.

  • I liked how we found out that one of the siblings in the family was gay.

  • Near the end, I loved a series of shots of each of the main people who had been interviewed during the film. It was just a head shot, and no one spoke. Through facial expression alone, we watched each of them become emotionally overcome. I thought it was brilliant.

  • I loved Michael Polley's outlook on love and life. I do wish he'd cut down on the smoking, however.

  • I liked thinking about the question, "Who's story it is to tell?" when an event takes place between two people, but affects a lot of other people. The filmmaker and one of the people involved in the event disagreed on the answer to that very question:

    • The filmmaker, who is the relative most affected by the event, feels strongly that the telling of the story should include: "My experience of it, your experience of it, as well as my family's experience of it. Everyone's point of view, no matter how contradictory, should be included and given equal weight."

    • The person involved in the incident says, "I think they should all be heard, it's the giving them equal weight that I don't like. There are three players:

      • The parties to the incident, those who were there and were directly affected by it

      • Then there's a circle around that of people who were affected tangentially because of their relationship to the principal parties

      • And then another concentric circle of people who have been told things by the principal parties."
    He believes this story belongs to him and the person it happened with, and that it's their story to tell. But since that other person is no longer here, it's his story to tell.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think?
 

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