score: 93.5 rating: R time: 114 minutes
sure, we would've been happy with a two-ish hour venture on the life of hannah montana, but we were more glad and honored to be able to see just the montana story at the angelika!! taking a simple story and massaging the depth out of it, the montana story gets its hands around your emotions and takes you through a beautiful and moving journey across the eye-catching landscapes of, duh, montana. we whole-heartedly agree with the hollywood reporter's declaration that owen teague's performance is "heart-searing", but we'll get into that later 😏😏😏😏 we promise not to throw out any huge giveaways, yet we should warn you of one thing. irresponsibly, we forgot to bring a pack of tissues along with us to the theatre, so, if you haven't seen this film and are looking forward to, we advise you, if you are the tearful type, bring a handful just in case. not spoiling anything, right?? 😏😏😏😏😏😏😏
straightaway, this film excelled way passed the others with its realism. there were several ways that this film hit home in this category, and we're gonna break that down.
use of sound. in the most elegant of gritty ways, the montana story included all of the 'random' noise of natural living. creaky floors, squeaky beds, and toothpaste spit were just a few of these noisy nuances that submerged you, the viewer, onto the ranch. partially, this acknowledgement has to be handed to the set designers, because hand and hand the two departments slayed. the key to their slay-ation was the fact that they weren't trying to make anything 'pretty-pretty'. yes, it's difficult to do that when you've got a gorgeous cast, but that didn't stop the set-team. you see, when it comes to film, most of the noises you hear are added in post. it's quite confusing, but its main purpose is to achieve clear and clean dialogue audio. but that means, sometimes, set departments have to go through countless efforts in making shoes not noisy and etc. that's why we appreciated the rawness that we heard with the prop-given squeaky bed and the set-designed creaky ranch.
but, if we are talking realism, we need to talk this man....
owen teague's hair could've just been its own character for all the times it lusciously waved in the air. but nothing, not even his beautiful hair, could have outshined his emotional, climatic performance. the real puncher of his impact was the way his voice broke when (spoiler) he said “i don’t know” to erin (haley lu richardson). keeping it together for most of the film, the audience witnesses his character, cal, act like the stereotypical man, sniffing up his emotions so they don't show. that's why, when we watch him let it out, in the most unexpected way with a surprising break in his tear ducts, as he explains the guilt he carries to his sister for not helping her, we can't help but be taken aback. let alone, owen's portrayal at this point has been anything but a disappointment. honing in on all the little human-subtleties, he makes cal feel like that one decent boy we all know. however, on the other hand, he was also giving us a look at a true indie boy. "twins, what are you saying?? that makes no sense" - true. but, we'll explain.
the montana story was an indie film. in most indie films, the leading indie boy (like a tim tim 't' chal aka timothée chalamet) is serving their acting in the moment. they're plot driven and emotional. they'll give you the tears for all 24 hours and act like that's just them. what we had with the montana story was different. owen's indie-ness was natural. we would love our society to be accepting of the, for a lack of a better phrase, soft boys, but our society doesn't like to promote emotional boys. because of this, owen's realism made cal put together and forward with his feelings (and lack thereof). he wasn't always agreeable at times, arguing with his sister that it was too cold outside to drive her to buy her car but then pushing her to test the car out when they were there. a lot of filmmakers cut those little things out for time, but, by keeping those things in, it made owen's emotional break more tender. we have to applaud the director for allowing and, possibly, shaping this look, because, most of all, the entire film sits differently with your heart.
looping this to an end, there is nothing more realistic than having that moment where you have to brush your teeth with your finger. there just isn't. from its scenery, to its acting, to its set, the montana story was endlessly a brutal look into the realistic lives of two estranged siblings. and this film may not have as much eye candy as everything everywhere all at once or the duke, but it sure as heck was not lacking in its execution. in all, it was such a treat to be able to watch this film on the big screen at the angelika movie theatre, and we hope that, whether you go see the montana story or another movie, you join our venture and make it a point to visit your favorite theatre, too.
-- thanks, angelika xo