kev.’s review published on Letterboxd:
“History isn’t here yet.”
There’s a simplicity that has been a constant in every Kelly Reichardt film I’ve seen so far. Something so harmonious and peaceful about the way her stories are told that create the illusion that what you’re watching is something better than it actually is, something new and different, and while that is true to some extent, that feeling wears off once the credits come and you’re left with the realization that the very same thing that attracted you to the film in the first place is what makes it so forgettable towards the end. Although there’s nothing wrong with having a film be purely so engaging that the viewer is lost in it, but that doesn’t make much of a difference if the rest of it doesn’t live up to that level of excitement. That’s the case for First Cow.
It creates a fascinating atmosphere that traps you for two whole hours, but the story just isn’t all that. I’ll admit the premise is actually very interesting and it keeps you wondering what will happen next, but after a while it becomes somewhat static and not all that exciting. Even once it reaches what seems to be its climax, it rapidly slows down and turns into a lackluster that kills whatever enjoyment you had left for it. I know this might be something others might disagree with, as that has been the case with some of my other Kelly Reichardt opinions before, but I just can’t seem to get into their stories as much as I’d like to. Still, I can’t deny the fact that they never fail to be just entertaining enough to keep watching.
The silver lining in this though, are the mesmerizing visuals and amazing cinematography. Its setting is centered around nature and you can feel that with the beautiful imagery and candlelit scenes, that combined with a beautiful camerawork left me almost in awe. As well as two great performances from John Magaro and Orion Lee. Overall, this is a beautifully made film and it’s absolutely worth watching, but I really wish the material was at the same level as the wonderful technical aspects of it. Maybe I’ll warm up to it more in the future once my expectations for it go down.