Stories We Tell

I should have been working on lecture notes or something like that, but I had left my papers in the office during the holiday weekend.  I had some time before ten o’clock would strike, so I watched “Stories We Tell,” the documentary about a family.  The only person I had seen before was Sarah Polley, and that was because she was in “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” as a little girl.  The focus of the film is on Sara’s mother Polley, who seemed extroverted and lively, but apparently had secrets.  She died in 1990, and her death left behind a sad family.  What I thought about as I watched this movie is how we gravitate towards some people and more or less ignore others.  We like to talk about personalities like Diane Polley.  Also, our culture doesn’t seem to respect notions like privacy.  Is it so important to take out this wrecking ball to get at what is supposed to be the truth?  Everyone seems concerned about the wife’s need for love, but what about the husband’s?  It is so very sad to see the father saying that he had four or five years of closenesss with Sarah.  It was moving to hear that, and distressing, because he lived through his life with a few years of happiness here or there, and a lot of it was an illusion.  It felt that he was burying a lot of his pain.  It seemed that this family stayed together when they should have parted ways.  This film reminded me of “Capturing the Friedmans” because there is some remarkable old footage capturing images of family members in the past.  Sarah Polley also directed “Away From Her,” the very good film with Julie Christie.  After seeing “Stories We Tell,” I can see how Sarah could connect so strongly with the subject matter of seeing a loved one dying.  Both “Away From Her” and “Stories We Tell” are worth seeing, although a double feature would be difficult viewing.

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