The Sarah Polley Movie

Used to be movies came on like a lion and then disappeared. Music entered the scene like a lamb and lasted.

But no more.

Records were all about traction, how could you get something to stick. Movies were about getting people into the theatre right away. At first, there was no television for reruns, the flicks just disappeared. Then came TV, then came the VCR and now comes Netflix. So films live on. Whereas a record that does not gain purchase, and very few do, disappears and is plowed under by subsequent releases. Both art forms are heavily promoted at the outset, but music promotion has no legs, no one years later says they’re interested in hearing the stiff work of so and so. But when we hear movies are good, the titles stick in our minds, and when we’re surfing our streaming services, a synapse fires and we hit play.

That’s what happened to me last night with Sarah Polley’s movie “Stories We Tell.”

It’s about a secret, a personal secret. It’s a documentary. And although I’ve always loved Polley’s work in front of the camera, I’m skeptical of actors who switch sides. Which may be why I did not make the effort to see this film in the theatre, and it is an effort, but I always remembered the accolades and when I hit play last night, I was hooked.

Are you married to the right person?

Are you an extrovert and is he or she an introvert?

That’s the case with Diane Polley. She was the life of the party, always going to and fro, whereas her husband Michael was a homebody who didn’t talk much and was fine with that. Did this cripple Diane or root her?

And do you make a clean break for love or do you hang in there for the benefits, enriched over time?

These are the questions which haunt us all. Am I more into her than she is to me? According to Michael, that’s almost inevitable.

But maybe these questions can be asked because the story took place in Canada, where they don’t have the American dream and it’s cold and snowy and who you are inside and who your friends are is all you’re gonna get. Whereas in the U.S., everybody dreams of getting out, rising above, leaving behind where they came from and entering a brand new, better world, crawling from the wreckage into a brand new car. But is it really better?

I don’t know.

Despite all the certainty being flung at me constantly I’ve got more questions than answers, and I find when I bring them up no one wants to hear them, no one wants to contemplate them, no one wants to debate them, because that would waste time on the way to their destination. And no one’s got any time anymore.

Including me. Which is why I can’t remember the last time I went to the movies.

And today it’s all about television anyway. Because TV knows it’s about story, movies have lost sight of this truism.

And there’s plenty of story in “Stories We Tell,” but what draws one in is the truth. That’s what art is in search of. And it’s not only lyrics, it can be sound, but we’ve long ago given up looking for truth in music. Because brands aren’t about truth, but deception, and money.

And some of the truth in this film is staggering. Michael Polley quoting Pablo Neruda:

“Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”

Eureka, that is it! Today you break up and are over it immediately. You get divorced and remarried instantly. No one wants to talk about the damage, the lingering effects of disconnection. And if they do, their friends just say to get over it, as if you can will yourself into thinking something different, but you can’t.

So “Stories We Tell” is at your fingertips. If you don’t have a Netflix account you can sign up and immediately cancel after watching this movie.

And you should, watch this movie. Because we’re all human.

And it’s full of humanity.

And truth.

Like all stories are not tied up neatly. Everyone has their own truth. And we age and lose and ruminate and are thrilled by small joys we can hold on to.

Because life is precious.

And so is this film.

Stories We Tell

One Response to The Sarah Polley Movie


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  1. Pingback by Recent Netflix Finds | 2015/05/28 at 07:04:52

    […] brings me to his recent piece on a movie I loved: Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, which both Bob and I have seen on […]

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  1. Pingback by Recent Netflix Finds | 2015/05/28 at 07:04:52

    […] brings me to his recent piece on a movie I loved: Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, which both Bob and I have seen on […]

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