Get to know D.C. with our daily newsletter
We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
Early in writer/director/actor Sarah Polley’s polarizing documentary Stories We Tell, her sister questions the whole project in a candid interview: “Who’s going to want to see a movie about our family?” It’s a valid question considering that, besides Sarah, no member of the Polley clan has attracted the public eye. But while Polley’s film is ostensibly about her family—with an emphasis on her dynamic mother, who died when Polley was 11—Stories We Tell is more than a documentary. It’s a film essay on the construction and perception of storytelling and how narratives can change between the people involved. Without giving away the mysterious central conceit that drives the narrative, Polley sets out to interview her family to learn more about her larger-than-life mother. But in the process, she uncovers some dark secrets, and the sometimes contradictory testimonies of family members further muddy her family’s already murky history. Utilizing re-enactments as a clever visual aid, the film presents a heartfelt and compelling family portrait that doesn’t succumb to sentimentality. Stories We Tell is a cinematic family scrapbook that grows with the turn of every page. —Matt Cohen