Directed by Sarah Polley.
FILM SYNOPSIS: Buoyed by Super-8 re-enactments, this introspective documentary examines the moviemaker Sarah Polley (Away From Her, Take This Waltz), which includes the revelation that the filmmaker was the result of an extramarital affair. It’s an intellectual search for truth by a family of storytellers.
PREVIEW REVIEW: We movie critics love discovering films that don’t fit into a mold. They’re different and we desperately seek different. When one is found, we often overlook its faults because these cinema treasures are witty, creative and sometimes even profound. We love the sudden realization that we’re not sure where these filmed parables are going to take us. Such is the case with Sarah Polley’s genre-twisting staged bio/doc.
The heady film concerns so much more than finding out about the auteur’s mother (who passed away in 1990) or coming to terms with the identity of her biological father (her mom had an affair, which was a hidden fact for 20 years). The filmmaker seems to be taking a cinematic sojourn in search of truth. Or, perhaps her experiment is being done in order to express a theory that truth can never be found.
Of course, this search for truth is not a new concept. In the Bible’s Book of John, Pilate begs the question, “Truth, what is truth?” Sadly, for those who don’t believe in an omniscient Heavenly Father, they will be satisfied with just raising the question, assuming there is no concrete revelation to actually find.
Stories We Tell is peopled by an entire cast of apparent unbelievers who seek answers to life’s mysteries. This may leave Christian viewers unsatisfied. For though we of faith can see some of our own foibles and failings by viewing unbelievers struggle with theirs, Christians will ultimately search for the solutions in places secular folk never think to look. The more we develop our relationship with Christ, the clearer it becomes that the missing equation to finding that peace, contentment and true revelation can only be found through man’s third component – his spirituality.
For me the film’s true profundity is in a segment seldom found in documentaries that tackle the examination of human behavior. At one point Sarah is told that her mother had not only considered aborting her, but was in route to the clinic in order to proceed with the termination. Suddenly, she turned to her husband and said, “I can’t do this.” Years later, the husband says to Sarah, and us, “Amazing how close we were to you never existing. Almost enough to make you an anti-abortionist.”
For this statement to come from a onetime prochoice thinker makes it even more penetrating. We see home video of Sarah as a little girl spliced through the entire documentary. We also learn that Sarah has been productive, and we see her relating to loving family and friends. The realization that she had been a car-drive away from not being a part of their lives haunts the production, perhaps negating any debate concerning a woman’s rights over those of the unborn. *
*Too often we defenders of the unborn come across as unfeeling or unthinking in regard to those who decided on that procedure. It should be stated that if indeed abortion is a sin, it is one that can be forgiven. The woman who condemns herself for the deed need only ask for God’s forgiveness. If she does, she will find it. And one day, she will be reunited with her child. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just a stone thrower. Now, what was it that Jesus said about throwing the first stone?