Many movies out there warn critics about spoilers. “Don’t ruin Iron Man 3 for your readers.” Why not? The dude doesn’t die. Did you really think he would? He’ll live to sequel again.
Other movies actually deserve that spoiler warning. Case in point: Stories We Tell, which filmmaker Sarah Polley calls a documentary. That’s a tricky proposition for a film that’s out to mess with our heads. Canadian actress Polley (indelible in films as diverse as The Sweet Hereafter and the remake of Dawn of the Dead) has already directed two superb dramatic features (Away From Her, Take This Waltz). And she moves on to non-fiction with the same sense of gravity and mischief. Family secrets are on the table in Stories We Tell. Polley’s own family. And she puts them all on camera, with her father, Michael, also serving as narrator. One crucial exception is Polley’s actress mother, Diane, who died of cancer two days after Sarah’s 11th birthday. It’s Diane, seen in what appears to be home-video footage, who draws focus as the question of Sarah’s paternity is raised.
Now it’s time for me to shut up. Don’t let anyone spoil the surprises that unravel in this movie as Polley has her brilliant way with the elusiveness of truth. The result, with its flashing perspectives and stealthy wit, is unique and unforgettable.