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Pick of the week: Sarah Polley’s family secrets

Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell” is two or maybe three dangerous kinds of movies all at the same time, and handled so brilliantly that the result is a transformative, unforgettable work of art. This documentary about Polley’s own surprising family secrets -- which includes some sneaky fictional or imaginative elements -- might sound at first like a personal indulgence but becomes something much larger and subtler: A gripping investigation of the ultimately unknowable past, a meditation on how and whether we can actually know anything, and an act of profound love and generosity. That generosity extends not just to the members of Polley’s WASPy Canadian family – although you certainly feel that – but also to the audience. I left the theater thinking not just about Polley’s family secrets but my own, for which of us truly knows where we came from, or what unrecoverable stories of love and heartbreak lie in our prehistory?

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