A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie is mostly about communication and forgiveness, as a family comes to terms with events that split them apart.
Positive Role Models
Characters are likable, compassionate, and understanding, but they're also dealing with a sad situation, and decisions are made based on grief and hardship.
Of the movie's six significant characters, three are Native American, two are White, and one is Kenyan. One Native American character and the Kenyan character have positive but somewhat clichéd caretaker roles (the latter, especially, seems to be there solely to dispense wisdom to others, without much agency/purpose of his own).
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Character spends the movie in a coma. Character has a heart attack. A decision to unplug life support. Violent, abusive parent described in dialogue: "He almost killed me, he broke my nose, he separated my shoulder, he cracked my ribs." Character kills chicken (mostly off-screen); slicing, gurgling, flapping sounds heard, a little blood seen. Description of dead horse: "pool of her own blood, bullet in her head."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sporadic uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "hell."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
eBay is shown on a web browser. Venmo, Verizon, Craigslist mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several scenes of main characters smoking cigarettes. Wine with dinner.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Montana Story is a drama about siblings (Haley Lu Richardson and Owen Teague) who return to the family ranch when their father falls into a coma and must face their dark family history. It's a quiet, compassionate story with messages about communication and forgiveness. That said, you can expect scenes showing a man in a coma and dealing with a heart attack, as well as descriptions of horrific parental abuse and the corpse of a murdered horse. A character kills a chicken, largely off-screen, although sounds (slicing, gurgling, and flapping) are heard, and a little blood is seen. Language is sporadic but includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," and "hell." The main characters smoke cigarettes more than once, and characters drink wine with dinner. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A beautiful, uncommonly quiet, tender movie, this family drama skips hysterics and theatrics in favor of thoughtful contemplation and gradual reveals, even if it sometimes does get a bit too soft. Veteran directing team David Siegel and Scott McGehee return for the first time since their unsung, nuanced What Maisie Knew for another deeply felt, character-driven piece. Montana Story immediately sets up its characters as smart, caring people who have a palpable longstanding history, both good and bad. When Erin storms through with her barely controlled anger, we might wonder why Cal doesn't respond to it, but he has his reasons.
The siblings are also at odds with their professions. Cal is an engineer who can appreciate the beauty in a carved-out gold mine, while Erin is a farm-to-table cook who has a special relationship with animals. This divide comes into play during a crucial scene in which the power goes out and their father's life support fails; Erin is left in the room with her flesh and blood, while Cal tries to fire up a generator, and everything changes. Montana Story isn't without its flaws: Ace's portrayal as a noble dispenser of wisdom feels stereotypical (even if his wisdom is appreciated), and the conventional score and too many soft songs jar the otherwise delicate mood. Silence would have been far more effective. Nevertheless, this is a powerful movie, both emotional and visual.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Drama Movies That Tug at the Heartstrings
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate