Art can be transportive, and it can be reflective.
I tend to gravitate towards the former: art that transports me into far-flung lives and worlds inaccessible on my own. Despite how far-afield we travel, there are probably always parallels — or at least juxtapositions — between these stories and and our own familiar existence.
But how about when this paralleling forms a more perfect Venn diagram of circles? Such is the case for more reflective art, art that acts as a mirror to ourselves. This outside vantage point can afford us an insightful perspective that might enlighten us to views often obscured by being so inside, well, ourselves.
Montana Story, a new movie now in theaters, served this exact function for yours truly.
Autobiography alert: my life is pretty good at the moment. I live with my forever girlfriend (and a transcendent dog) in our mutually beloved adopted hometown. While my career hasn’t progressed at an ideal pace, I’m still comfortable with my current trajectory. I’m surrounded by a robust network of supportive friends, and my family rocks, in-laws included. And, I count my only sibling — another NYC resident — to be among my best friends.
But reflective art such as Montana Story keeps me mindful of the tragedies waiting around the next bend. Given the relative comfort of my day to day, the next major hurdle I can expect to traverse is — knock on wood to push this back many decades — taking care of my ailing parents with my sister.
Which is the very premise of Montana Story. Was my embarrassingly emotional reaction — imagine the loudest sobs, and you’re halfway there — a testament to the movie’s quality and effectiveness? Or did the relevancy of its subject just happen to hit me at a particularly vulnerable juncture?
Does it matter?
As they always say, you can’t prepare for such cataclysms; the only way out of them is through. BUT, art can present similar situations as cognitive case studies to mull the best practices to proceed as peacefully as possible.
Will watching art like Montana Story ensure easy passage? Definitely not. But it can’t hurt, which maybe is why Montana Story hurt so good.