First Cow

First Cow ★★★★★

“I’d like to open a hotel someday. Place for travelers. A bakery…..”

It's interesting to see a film that feels like the culmination of years of a director’s style being perfected and their own cinematic interests coming together in one film, as this feels like there is a little bit of every Kelly Reichardt film in here. The life of crime on the run story in River of Grass, the intimate relationship and the sense of nature in Old Joy, the moments of uncertainty facing an uncaring system in Wendy and Lucy, the unsentimental framing of the American landscape in Meek’s Cutoff, the nail-biting tension of Night Moves and the quiet longing found in Certain Women. It's all there.

What ties the film together is Cookie and King's relationship and how it slowly and sincerely develops through a number of odd and unlikely situations. The story always keeps going in interesting directions and its thanks to these characters, trying to find any way to make ends meet in a world that's slowly closing in on them. While there is a slightly nihilistic outlook in this film, it's more directed at the idea of making a living in America and the higher powers that perpetuate them. In regards to the characters, they are shown intimately and empathetically in their struggles.

Of course, the film has Reichardt's trademark deliberately slow pace, which won't always be for everyone but I will never not love it as there is more attention to the atmosphere than just being shot for efficiency. It also helps that the film is beautiful to look at, but a simple kind not as much a visual style that tries to bring attention to itself (again another element that's common in Kelly's films). In a strange way, this might be her most ambitious film, but even then it still feels modest in its approach.

So all in all, this is pretty much everything I could want from a Kelly Reichardt film and again it's so soft-spoken and intimate while being fully engaging. It also has a final shot that's going to resonate with me for quite a while.

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