#TIFF21: “MONTANA STORY” REVIEW
By Amanda Gilmore
Montana Story follows Cal Thorne (Owen Teague) who is drawn back to the family ranch to be with his ailing father, Wade. He joins nurse, Ace (Gilbert Owuor) and longtime employee Valentina (Kimberly Guerrero) as Ace cares for Wade and Valentina manages the vast property. To Cal’s surprise, he also becomes reunited with his estranged sister Erin (Haley Lu Richardson) who continues to carry her pain over past family abuse. Her decision to quickly leave is halted when she finds out what they are planning on doing to her beloved horse.
Filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel have created an empathetic Film about confronting past family trauma in the face of losing the one that inflated the harm. It’s beautifully-shot and set in the vast, mountainous landscape of this Montana ranch. Anchored in its bond between brother and sister, it’s a quiet film that slowly creeps up on you. Family abuse is exposed through each sibling, showing the effects of those abused and those who keep quiet. McGehee and Siegel’s steady camerawork allows for the characters to drive the story and the actors to shine.
Richardson certifies herself as one of the strongest up-and-coming Actresses of her generation. She carries Erin’s pain and resentment for her abuse while showing compassion for the ill father who inflicted it. In one prominent scene, Erin confronts Cal for standing by as the abuse took place. Richardson exposes the anguish she feels but also the catharsis for finally letting out what she’s been swallowing her entire life.
Additionally, this scene allows Teague to show the guilt Cal has been carrying. Cal not only kept quiet but left his sister to continue receiving the abuse. Teague physically shows the guilt in this scene as we watch Cal crumble, finally being able to apologize. In turn, forgiving himself and releasing that guilt. The two of them are a perfect match in every scene.
Montana Story screens at TIFF ’21:
Sat, Sep 11 at 4:30 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sat, Sep 11 at 9 PM on Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox
Wed, Sep 15 at 5 PM on Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox
Thu, Sep 16 at 4 PM at Cinesphere IMAX Theatre