The land is beautiful, the family drama compelling in stunning ‘Montana Story’

FILM CRITIC

‘HISTORY OF MONTANA’

Rated R. At AMC Boston Common and Landmark Kendall Square.

Class A-

A sibling relationship to Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” the indie effort “Montana Story” is the modern-day tale of an extended family, including an estranged sibling, bracing for the patriarch’s impending death. of the family.

Cal (Owen Teague) is the first to arrive at the sprawling ranch where he grew up. There he finds a friend of the Valentina family (Kimberly Guerrero). Also at home is Cal’s father, who is comatose in a hospital bed from the study, where he is cared for by soft-spoken nurse Ace (Gilbert Owuor), who has the family in Nairobi. Cal’s unexpected sister Erin (Haley Lu Richardson) suddenly arrives. An angry little ghost, she is traumatized by her return.

Seven years earlier, when Cal was 15, Erin had written an article for school exposing her father as a “slimy lawyer”, and a newspaper caught wind of it, and her father nearly killed her. She expected her brother to protect her. But he was too afraid of his father. Erin observes that her father is now “shrunken and pathetic” and has never forgiven Cal. She’s actually more concerned about the impending death by euthanasia of Cal’s neglected 25-year-old black horse.

Cal’s old friend Joey (Asivak Koostachin), Valentina’s son, arrives to chop down a fallen tree on a fence. He, Cal, and Erin were once a trio of best friends, and she missed them sorely.

Half of the scenes in “Montana Story,” which was shot in Paradise Valley, Montana, are framed by sweeping views of snow-capped mountains. Yes, the view gives the film a mythical, neo-Western side. But this West is different from the old one. The men do not carry handguns and wear Winchesters. Words and money are the weapons of today. Women can also use them. Hostility between whites and Native Americans turned into friendship in some cases or numb acceptance in others.

We learn that Cal and Erin had different mothers. Erin’s mother, Libby, died, leaving a hole that Cal’s mother, Connie, couldn’t fill. Is it any wonder that the name above the ranch entrance is Thorne? Both women are dead and, like all families, this one has to settle its accounts and pay its bills. Cal, who is a civil engineer, sells his mother’s 2013 Lexus SUV. He finds a lipstick in the glove box and looks at it. The ranch will be sold to pay for medical expenses.

Co-written and directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel of Henry James’ beautiful 2012 adaptation “What Maisie Knew,” “Montana Story” picks up mighty momentum as it goes, and you never know where. he directs himself.

Erin, who knows Dante’s Seven Circles of Hell by heart, decides to take the horse back to upstate New York. It’s a terrible decision, and the truck and trailer she buys are run-down death traps. In one scene, the Native American who sells the truck and trailer tells Cal and Erin that he is a Mohican from New York, whose inhabitants have moved increasingly westward, driven by “the expansion ” from West. He now lives among the native Blackfeet, an existential stranger in a foreign land.

The cast, led by the very good Richardson and Teague, is uniformly top-notch. The final blow will kill you. “Yellowstone” fans might want to give “Montana Story” a spin.

“Montana Story” contains profanity.