Daily Dose Pick: Sweetgrass


An ode to a bygone aspect of the West, Sweetgrass follows a pair of shepherds and the last, bleating drove of sheep to pass through Montana’s imposing Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains.

Without the false boost of special effects, Harvard spouses Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor convey the breathtaking scale and strain of marshaling of 3,000 creatures for three long months across 150 rugged miles. Although there are enough supreme panoramas of the Edenic lands to fill a coffee-table book, the camera never shies from the less pleasing but no less fascinating actualities of ovine life — whether it’s a ewe giving birth, or an assembly line to shear the fluff off.

Punctuating this gracious “last ride of the American cowboy” are moments of unexpected humor, tenderness, and outright fury — such as a minutes-long tirade by the younger, cell-using wrangler.

Peruse the documentary’s website, read a discussion with the husband-and-wife director team, and take in Cinema Scope’s review and Castaing-Taylor interview.