"Transcend and include... this is the self-transcending drive of the Kosmos—to go beyond what went before and yet include what went before... to open into the very heart of Spirit-in-action." Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if a group of people somewhere were for something and against nothing?" Ernest Holmes

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Integral Movie Review: Perspectives on Perspectives in "The Stories We Tell"

Canadian director Sarah Polley has a secret in "The Stories We Tell," but I don't think it's the one critics are raving about. Supposedly the movie is a structure-bending, acted documentary about the director's parents. Most critics see it as a rich exploration of memory and the way each of us constructs a different version of events from our perspective. As such, it aligns with Integral's call to take perspectives on perspectives (P on P) as the best way to grow. But I left the movie feeling hollow, confused, manipulated. A friend's comment that we got to know everyone but Sarah herself tipped me off as to why. I think possibly this movie is just a shadow of the real story the director is hiding. But--spoiler alert--I can't explain that without giving away the plot in the next paragraph.

Through interviews with each member of Sarah's family, we learn how the polarity mismatch between her vibrant mother Diane and cool father Michael--both actors--led Diane to an affair with a producer, opening the possibility that Michael is not Sarah's biological father. The uncovering of this secret impacts the family in ways that would, indeed, make  a great Lifetime made-for-TV movie. And techniques in how the story is told break new ground in that postmodern, twist-it way (leaving me personally feeling first charmed and then manipulated).

But the supposed layering of perspectives that critics are hailing to me amounted only to minor differences in detail--a who-knew-what-when. As such, the story surely provides moving grist for other families touched by affairs. But I see a much more unusual story hidden within. How does Sarah feel about her discovery and its impact on the beloved man who raised her? That is the one intimate detail we never learn, and within it is the key to the story beyond the story.

Sarah Polley goes on a quest to find her biological father. What she discovers will devastate Michael, the  man who raised her. And so, to soften the blow, she brilliantly decides to make a documentary, giving him the role of a lifetime as both writer and star. It is a ploy that succeeds magnificently.  Michael is able to turn the devastating revelation into an homage to his dead wife and a chance to publicly do the right thing in how he responds. Sarah is let off the hook for exposing Michael to pain and  wins Canada's best film of the year.

Now that's a story.


Laurie said...

Great review, Teri, and completely timely for me personally. What a gem you are!

Chris Charuhas said...

Thanks for the review, Ms. Murphy. The movie was recommended to me by a friend, and now I can watch it with an Integral perspective in mind.

I've left a comment here because I didn't know any other way to get in touch with you.

I've written a book that might be of interest to you, your readers, and your colleagues. It's called Let's Get Integral: an illustrated introduction to Integral thought.

It's the first book of its kind: an illustration-rich introduction to Integral ideas, written especially for people new to them.

There's more info about the book at www.letsgetintegral.com. I'm happy to send you a PDF copy if you like.

Thank you for your kind attention,

Chris Charuhas
New Market, MD

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