Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Oct 23rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Stories We Tell

film stories we tellIn 2006, Canadian actress Sarah Polley directed Julie Christie to an Oscar nomination and herself to a variety of writing and directing awards for her feature debut, Away From Her. Now Polley turns to the documentary format in Stories We Tell, which is essentially a glorified home movie about the filmmaker's family and a potent secret buried for years in its collective past. In circling around her quarry, a family rumor, a joke, really, that she decides to investigate, Polley attempts to give her subject universal appeal by stressing the theme of communal family storytelling, and the places where family story and true history either converge or split apart.

And the Polley family story she tells certainly has dramatic impact, once the truth is finally untangled from the myth surrounding it. Still, the viewer might agree when Joanna Polley, one of four other siblings interviewed in the film, laughs, "Who cares about our family?" Sarah Polley's claims that her film taps into something universal in the family experience, yet we wonder if this story really needed to be told outside her immediate clan. The film centers on the relationship between her father, reflective, solitary Michael Polley, and the vivacious life-force that was her mother, Diane; they met as stage actors in Toronto (although Michael claims Diane fell in love with a part he was playing). What seems to begin as a daughter's quest to get closer to the mother she barely knew becomes a portrait of love, lies, disappointment, regret, and a nugget of family intrigue with surprising repercussions. We also see how filmmaker Polley has overlaid her own layer of secrets and lies, although this is not revealed until the last 15 minutes of the film. Polley demonstrates her command of film language; these seamless additions are ingeniously done, inviting us to question the act of storytelling itself and the elusive nature of "truth." But it also feels a bit like cheating, as if Polley couldn't resist fictionalizing some portion of the material for public consumption. It also feels like her attempt to graft on a punchier thematic finale for the film, after her family revelation runs its course. Although it can be poignant and wryly humorous, the film mostly plays like an evolved episode of reality TV. (PG-13) 108 minutes. (★★1/2)

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

A huge part of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week has always been about offering a great dining experience for an affordable price. For some locals, the $25 flat-rate cost has provided the opportunity (or the excuse!) to try new spots, and indulge in Santa Cruz fine dining in a way they might have thought too pricey before.

 

Scorpio Sun, New Moon Eclipse, Mercury Direct

The Sun enters Scorpio’s mysteries Thursday under a new moon and partial solar eclipse (something essential has come to an end, its purpose completed). In Scorpio we harbor secrets, are devoted to something deep, dark and hidden. Sometimes it’s ourselves. We can bring great suspect to our assessment of others. Scorpio is the scorpion, the serpent and the eagle—three levels of development. As the serpent we take shelter in our beliefs. Sometimes we bite (or sting). The eagle vanquishes old beliefs through its sharp intellect, soaring high in the air, seeking to understand through perspective. Understanding releases us from the bondage of fear. The eagle is like the mother soothing feelings of mistrust, offering protection. Knowledge does this, too.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Back Porch

Austin Kaye on backyard dinners and why it’s his favorite time of year to be a chef

 

What’s the most outrageous situation you ever saw at a restaurant?

Damani Thomas, Santa Cruz, Chef/Owner

 

Wine Lust

The Spanish Godello grape, plus arancinis, tender butter lettuce and pork schnitzel at Soif

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher