'Montana Story' review: A domestic drama in the land of Big Sky

In the cleverly reimagined “Montana Story” genre, the American flag doesn’t just wave and flutter, it also sends a warning. He looks so ...


In the cleverly reimagined “Montana Story” genre, the American flag doesn’t just wave and flutter, it also sends a warning. He looks so modest. Clean and neat, with no frayed edges or faded colors, it flies from a tall pole planted in front of a beautiful two-story house. There, on 200 acres in southwestern Montana, in a glorious region surrounded by mountains known as Paradise Valley, nature invites and soothes. It looks like heaven; it takes a while to see the rot.

Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel don’t dwell on the flag. Instead, they gently immerse you in a classic Western setting while simultaneously drawing you into a simmering family melodrama about two grappling adult children and their terminally ill father. He was the one who bought the family ranch years earlier and – with lots of help, nice horses, and unethical lined pockets – took on the quintessential American role of cowboy. This archetype is central to both his legacy and the film’s larger ambitions, which draw a line between one man’s heritage and the country’s heavy legacy.

Winter is approaching when the youngest, Cal (Owen Teague), arrives at the ranch in his truck. Lanky and in his early twenties, he has the loose limbs of a man who hasn’t settled into his body and a name that conjures up “East of Edenanother domestic drama. Here, the family story emerges discreetly, with visual cues and tense discussions involving red flag words like bankruptcy. Cal’s father, Wade (Rob Story), had a stroke. Comatose and addicted to a machine that makes his heart beat, he now languishes in the office, cared for by a nurse, Ace (Gilbert Owuor), and a housekeeper, Valentina (Kimberly Guerrero).

Despite the bad news and Cal’s furrowed brow over unpaid bills, there’s an inviting, relaxed quality to this narrative table setting, in the introductions, the neatly arranged genre elements, and the laid-back way the parts begin to unfold. implement. Part of what’s appealing, even soothing, is that you think you’ve seen it before, if not necessarily in person. With its vistas, small town, lonely ranch, and dusty roads, Montana here looks pretty much what you’d expect. It is beautiful, isolated, robust; it’s also a world that, in image and philosophy, was partly invented by Hollywood (and currently available for rent through Airbnb).

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