5 Sarah Polley films to watch if you want to honour a great Canadian artist and have your day absolutely fucking ruined - The Beaverton
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5 Sarah Polley films to watch if you want to honour a great Canadian artist and have your day absolutely fucking ruined

Having taken home the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Women Talking, has officially graduated from precocious Canadian tv star to full royalty. And if you want to check out some of the other amazing work she has done while also being put into a depression so deep it feels like you’ll never come out of it, any one of these films should do it!

1 The Sweet Hereafter

Polley plays Nicole Burnell, an aspiring singer living in small town in this Atom Egoyan from 1997. Despite being only a teenager when she filmed it her performance matches the sincerity and beauty of Egoyan’s film. Polley needs few words to display her character’s conviction that the world will show her nothing but cruelty, who is then proven right over and over again in increasingly horrible ways. Bonus: Polley recorded a heartbreaking cover of The Hip’s Courage for the soundtrack, so you won’t be certain whether you’re over dead , sexual abuse or Gord Downie’s tragic passing!

2. My Life Without Me

Ann is a 23 year old mother struggling financially, whose mother is driving her crazy and whose father is in prison. And then things get worse! That’s right, it’s a movie. And not one with a ‘actually the MRI shows the tumours have miraculously shrunk’ third act twist! Want to spend the weekend thinking about what you would say in birthday messages to your young children that they’ll get after you die? Then this is the one for you.

3. Away From Her

The movie that proved Polley wasn’t just an actor who could make you feel very very . She is also a writer and director who can make you feel very, very sad! The late great Gordon Pinsent stars as a man who keeps losing the love of his life. First to and then to a patient at the facility she insists on going to. Also he’s pretty sure it’s all just punishment for his previous infidelity. Alzheimers and karmic punishment for past misdeeds you say? Sign us up and then also cancel our plans to go out tonight!

4. Take This Waltz

No this isn’t the fun cocaine concert film The Last Waltz. This is the infidelity dramedy with a stacked cast (Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman) that dares to pose the question: what if you blew up your safe, comfortable life for a sexy stranger, only to have nothing but a safe, comfortable life together, plus now your whole family hates you? No matter which choice Williams’ character had made she was doomed to a mediocre, middle of the road existence, just like you and I are!

5. Stories We Tell

Polley’s only documentary to date, she tells the story of her mother’s life and marriage to the man Polley knew as her father. Like Take This Waltz infidelity and the betrayal of your spouse are important themes, only here we get the extra knife twist of Polley finding out her dad isn’t her biological dad. And we discover that the home footage we’ve been watching of Polley’s childhood isn’t actual home footage at all, but just reenactments of events that may or may not have actually happened. Polley has cleverly tricked us just like her mom did! You get it? We do and we’re gonna go lie down now.

And that’s our list. Pretty impressive that at only 44 Polley has managed to create a filmography so sad that neither of the two apocalypse she made managed to crack it. If you’re looking for something light-hearted though there’s always the Alias Grace miniseries!

Image: Nicholas Genin