First Cow

First Cow ★★★★½

This ain’t a place for cows. God would’ve put cows here if it was.
It’s no place for white men either then, eh?

Kelly Reichardt’s style has never entirely worked for me, but her latest feature makes me want to turn around and take another peek at Meek, a more Certain glance at some Women named Wendy and Lucy. I may just have totally changed my opinion on her own whole filmography.

First Cow can be read as a simple tale of two friends embarking on a dangerous enterprise together. But it seems to work on a whole different level as well. The only way for the men to make it anywhere beyond mere survival in this northwest American trading outpost is to find something to take - hunt beavers for their pelts, discover a lode of soft gold, or surreptitiously milk your neighbor’s underutilized cow for the necessary ingredient to create something truly special. Is this a parable for American capitalism? Or an even broader look at man’s exploitation of nature? Probably. But whether you read more into it or not, Reichardt’s direction here is commanding, whether capturing pristine natural serenity or suspenseful high tension. Highly Recommended - one of this year’s best.

Added to: A24 Ranked

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