Tuesday, July 02, 2013

stories we tell

Moira+I made a rather late-in-the-day decision to go along to the Watershed yesterday to see Sarah Polley’s semi-documentary film “Stories We Tell”. After 20 minutes, I remember thinking that it was going a watchable, but unremarkable, film – but soon after that I began being enthralled by its story and the way in which Polley had chosen to tell it (she uses Super 8 film, “fake” footage from home movies plus genuine archive material  – somewhat pathetically, it took me half the film to realise that actors were being used for some scenes!). The film is a portrait of her troubled parents (retired British actor, Michael Polley, and his Canadian actor/television presenter wife, Diane). I’ve just seen it described as a “love-letter to her father and mother” and, although this seems a little trite, I think it’s a fair description. Diane died of cancer when Sarah was just 11 years old. Sarah Polley gets other family members (she has two brothers and two sisters) and friends of Diane to tell their own stories and to give their own interpretations. It all sounds so simple (and even quite boring!), but I assure you that it isn’t.
For me, one of the most poignant, telling aspects of the film was Michael’s deeply felt reminiscences which he’d written down (thanks to Sarah’s encouragement) and was made to read passages aloud for part of the film.
I’m delighted we decided to go along and thoroughly recommend that this is a film you should definitely try to see (it’s on at the Watershed, Bristol until at least 11 July).
Certainly one of my films of the year so far!
Footnote: I came out of the film reflecting on the unreliability of memory in all our lives. Ask any member of our own family and, inevitably, you’ll get vastly different viewpoints. For me, I’m pretty awful at remembering specific occasions (that might be one of the reasons I now write this blog?)… or, rather, I THINK I have complete recall of them – until Moira gently reminds me of the ACTUAL details. This has gone on throughout our married life (and I’m sure that our daughters will back Moira up on this!). The only problem is that I am apt to recount stories of these events at the drop of a hat… and this process of recalling “untruths” merely acts as a way of transforming unreliable memories into fact!

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