Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Lie My Mother Didn't Tell Me: Reviewing DVD of Stories We Tell

It sounds like a Lifetime movie: a young woman whose mother died long ago hears rumors that her real father was someone else. She goes and searches for her biological dad, and that affects everyone, including herself.

However, this is more than just a true's a documentary made by the young woman in question, actress and director Sarah Polley. This is a long way from Avonlea.

I had heard about Stories We Tell for some time, and got a chance to see it on DVD thanks to my friendly neighborhood Redbox. Polley interviews the family and friends of her mother, Diane Polley, and her dad Michael Polley, to investigate the truth of her parentage. She uses a mix of fake home movies, interviews, and even her dad's narration to piece together how Diane had an affair with someone while she was in a play at Montreal in 1978. The result turns out to be Polley.

The search actually starts because of an off-hand joke by one of Sarah's brothers, and the search leads to one possibility, and then the real father. So, once the truth is known, what can be done with it, and how will it affect everyone? This especially hits Sarah hard when she discovers a reporter has found out, and is about to publish it. This is before she's even told her dad the truth, and his reaction is quite unexpected. It's safe to say that it led to this film.

It's interesting we hear all the details of the marriage of Sarah's parents, including how they grew apart. We also hear from those who think they recall the affair. What's really touching is how it affects Sarah, and her doubts about even making the film she winds up making, and Michael as well. Even he says that while many stories will be told about Diane, Michael and Sarah's real dad, it's not really the whole truth. It's still compelling, and very interesting.

If you want a good drama, Stories We Tell is for you. While it has been praised with awards in Canada, the producers are hoping it may be in the Oscar hunt next year.

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