First Cow

First Cow ★★★★½

It would be premature to say, in the heat of passion, that this is "the best" Kelly Reichardt movie. But I think it is certaily the apotheosis of Kelly Reichardt's career to this point, summing up all of her narrative, psychological, and stylistic preoccupations up into one magnificent epic that feels both like a story of America The Concept as well as the extremely particular story of what happened when two shy outsiders met and became friends. It's hopefully not surprising that it's impeccably well-crafted, but there really isn't a shot or a story beat wasted, despite a shambling narrative that moves forward with the gentle drift of breathing. A consummate study of friendship, of the sins of American capitalism, of scratching out human will in the presence of nature, and of how the 1.33:1 aspect ratio is still the best one for framing human bodies, all these decades later. I have exercised extraordinary self-discipline in refraining from the last half-star, I will have you know.