Montana Story – Toronto 2021

Haley Lu Richardson and Owen Teague in Montana Story. Courtesy of TIFF.

Filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel take advantage of the isolation that Montana has to offer with their new drama, Montana Story.

With their father in a coma following a stroke, two estranged siblings, Erin (Haley Lu Richardson) and Cal Thorne (Owen Teague), return home to the family ranch. It’s no longer the same place where they grew up. They find Ace (Gilbert Owuor) looking after their dying father. Sure, some people are the same like one longtime employee, Valentina (Kimberly Guerrero). But aside from this, their family is going through bankruptcy. The ranch is going to be on sale in due time. When Erin finds out that Cal is going to put down her beloved horse, Mr. T, she gets upset and then changes her entire plans. Instead of flying back that day, she rebooks for the following day to be with him when he’s put down. But then, she gets the idea to drive him back home with her to upstate New York.

How do you make a pandemic movie without actually making a pandemic movie? This is sure to be the question on the minds of many filmmakers over the last year and a half. Their new film features a minimal cast but it’s mostly a two-hander starring Haley Lu Richardson and Owen Teague. Aside from a trip here and there, they never leave the comforts of the family ranch. It’s smart filmmaking to keep as much of the cast and crew in isolation especially during the late 2020 pandemic surge.

In a lot of ways, filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel deliver a modern Western out of the pandemic. There are no gunfighters in this picture. No duel is taking place at high noon outside of the saloon as people watch on. If anything, it’s Erin and Cal revisiting their past. It was Cal’s lack of action that led Erin to leave their Montana home for New York and becoming a cook. The filmmakers take us on a journey for almost two hours, slowly revealing the pertinent information. If not for the pandemic, it’s unlikely we would ever get this film from the filmmakers. Suffice it to say, the beauty of Montana really comes through on the screen. I would love to take in the film’s beauty on the big screen in all of its glory.

Scott McGehee and David Siegel take us on a journey in Montana Story with a pair of beautiful performances from Haley Lu Richardson and Owen Teague.

CAST: Haley Lu Richardson, Owen Teague, Kimberly Guerrero, Gilbert Owuor, Asivak Koostachin, Eugene Brave Rock

Montana Story holds its world premiere during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival in the Platform program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.