waiyanaung’s review published on Letterboxd:
First Cow is my most anticipated movie of the year and when this was finally released today I was happy as it actually met with my expection and wasn't disappointed by the hype and this movie is one more proof that Kelly Reichardt is one of the best American filmmaker working today. She returns to the meditative style of her earlier works which has been absent in the last two movies and the result is astonishing, on up there with some of her finest works.
Setting in 19th Century Oregon Territory the story follows two men: a skilled cook and Chinese immigrant businessman who formed unlikely friendship and decided to start a pastry business by stealing milk from the cow of the powerful landowner.
While it is the longest film set to date for Reichardt, this might be the easiest film to digest. As I always have been saying Reichardt movies are about time & place/ nature and it's habitats, and here she reconstructs ancient Oregon Territory with meticulous care and vividly portrayed the lives of Oregon's First People and gives a glimpse into an earliest form of capitalism taking place in a wild frontier while covering the growing friendship of two men which got interrupted when they saw an opportunity (Cow) and starting to chase the never fulfilling american dream. As always cinematography is mesmerising and peacefully capturing all powerful natural landscapes (forest, riverbank) and most of the moments of the movie without moving an inch. Direction from Reichardt is immersive and quietly unfold the drama and as much as I saw it coming the ending still hard hitting and connecting to the opening it is contemplative. Two lead performances are terrifc, I especially enjoyed that from John Magaro and Orion Lee is a delight. Conversations and interactions between the two are very natural and added so much to the movie. There are also a lot of excellent actors in this too (Toby Jones being the biggest) including Lily Gladstone of Reichardt's own Certain Women.
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