After their father suffers a severe stroke that leaves him in a coma with no hope of recovery, Cal (Owen Teague) and his older half-sister Erin (Haley Lu Richardson) return to the family ranch in Montana to care for him . Not even for Cal, especially not for Erin, that return will not be at all pleasant and easy, because we will understand very quickly in the emotional and shocking drama written and directed by the experienced duo Scott McGehee – David Siegel that the family home for both of them is a place of trauma and unsettled accounts from the past. And while the younger Cal lives in the nearby town of Cheyenne, Erin ran away from the ranch about seven years ago and never came back.
It is clear to us that Erin and Cal are not in a special relationship and that they have hardly been in contact all those years, and very soon it will become clear to us that their father was a despicable man who only afforded his children suffering and pain. This neo-western melodrama, which takes place in rural Montana, is shot in a slightly elegiac tone, and the directing duo uses nature almost as a secondary character and does not hesitate to take the time to give these wild areas importance. This also gives the film a certain contemplative, almost calming note, which seems to be the exact opposite of the restlessness, despair, anger and resentment that his descendants feel towards their father and who seem to be unsure whether a severe stroke was a just punishment for him or it would be better that they dared to tell him what they thought while he was still conscious.
And the father was not only cruel to them. He worked as a lawyer for various corporations, some of which operated on the other side of the law and destroyed nature. So in one scene, Erin and Cal are standing over a huge hole in the ground that was dug and then abandoned by a mining company thanks to their father’s legal advice. There is a lot of symbolism in that scene, because apart from the fact that he left holes in them in a symbolic sense, we see that there were holes behind that man in reality as well. “Montana Story” is a film with a slow, somehow calming rhythm that leaves the two main characters enough time to relive the traumas they escaped from and try to come to terms with the past and forgive each other and themselves.
In the beginning, the relationship between Erin and Cal is quite difficult and complicated, they seem distant and cold towards each other. Erin is even considering returning home to the New York area that same day, and will only decide to stay longer to save the life of an old horse that Cal plans to put to sleep. This fixation of hers to try to save the horse and take it away from the farm seems to be an attempt to redeem and correct the trauma that her father once gave her. A medical technician, a Kenyan Ace who is hired as their father’s caregiver, will serve almost as a connective tissue that will perhaps have the most influence on the brother and sister starting to bond again, and this slightly old-fashioned drama that subtly speaks about the fate of similar passive American areas that are the exact opposite of urban east and west, the film is worth watching.