Citing parental and sibling resemblances is a bit of a family sport. But what happens when a child who really doesn’t look as though she’s from the same brood takes it step further to pull up what she had assumed were her roots? That’s the subject of Stories We Tell, an autobiographical documentary written and directed by Sarah Polley.
The movie is Polley’s personal odyssey to uncover (Pluto) the genetic truth supporting her biological identity. Her probing (Pluto) investigation leads to the archetypal unmasking (Pluto) of her biological father (Sun). Polley lets us travel that road with her through interviews with family and friends, photos and newly created “old” videos that effortlessly siphon us into the past. Her evidence is thrilling, disarming and, ultimately, emotionally gratifying.
When Diane – Polley’s birth mother, who died when Polley was 11 – is pregnant with Sarah, one of Sarah’s older siblings overhears a conversation in which Diane suggests something clandestine about Sarah’s biological father. Then, much later, that nugget of doubt seeps into the family’s conversations. Whatever Polley might learn would have a possibly devastating effect on Michael, Diane’s husband and the only person Polley ever knew as Dad.
Like a screenwriter structuring a script, or an actress creating a backstory (she has been a professional actor since childhood), Polley relies on the Plutonic skill set of digging passionately and deeply.
Like Pluto snatching Persephone from the fields, taking her to hell, but restoring her back to earth fully formed, Polley is both Pluto and the maiden whose internal nightmare leads to the kind of blossoming only discovering the truth can bring.
Astrology Film Rating: ☉♇ (Sun, Pluto)