Title – Stories We Tell (2012)
Director – Sarah Polly (Take This Waltz)
Cast – Sarah Polly and her family
Plot – Canadian actress/director Sarah Polly sets out to discover information concerning her family and discovers more than she bargained for in the process, a process that includes many a varied storyteller.
“When you’re in the middle of a story, it isn’t a story at all”
Review by Eddie on 27/02/2014
Sarah Polly’s intimate and unique documentary Stories We Tell was one of last year’s biggest festival and critical hits in the doco field, with her fresh approach to telling a story using 8mm film to recreate the past, and talking heads to tell the present hitting a chord with audiences. As one of the most critically acclaimed movies of last year hype for the movie remains strong and in that respect Stories We Tell is an overrated movie.
To get the most out of Stories one must be wholly invested in the concerns of Polly’s family and the eventual revelations that come forth from her questioning and investigating of the past, but if your investment is minimal as I found mine was any emotional impact the film clearly has for many is dulled and therefore the film as a whole nothing more than a slightly intriguing piece of life in all its glories and in all its hidden secrets. It must be said however that the films early stages are quite promising and downright riveting it’s not until revelations are made clear that the film starts to struggle and you get the sense this is more a film for Polly herself than we the watchers.
It’s nice that Polly chooses to air some very personnel and deep seeded emotions in the way of this film but one question’s if what is being found out is of much benefit for someone not in the Polly family. Great documentaries like Searching for Sugarman or Dear Zachary work on emotional levels because what is being discovered as the film and participants go on is relatable in more large scale and universal ways, Stories showpiece just does not have the power to affect like this. The film also has a waft of self-importance that allows proceedings to sadly go in circles and length wise drag out to near two hours which with this format gets old fast.
Being critical as I have been, Stories is still a movie that will appeal to many a wide ranging audience and for people that may have been through similar family circumstances a tale that will really hit home. For the rest of us though Stories sadly is one of last year’s more overrated documentaries and in a genre that is consistently producing the goods it will be quickly forgotten in the wave of other quality entries.
3 storytellers out of 5