Kelly Reichardt once again trains her perceptive and patient eye on the Pacific Northwest, this time evoking an authentically hardscrabble early 19th-century way of life. A taciturn loner and skilled cook (John Magaro) has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) also seeking his fortune; soon the two collaborate on a successful business, although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a nearby wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow. From this simple premise Reichardt constructs an interrogation of foundational Americana that recalls her earlier triumph Old Joy in its sensitive depiction of male friendship, yet is driven by a mounting suspense all its own. Reichardt shows her distinct talent for depicting the peculiar rhythms of daily living and ability to capture the immense, unsettling quietude of rural America. An NYFF57 official selection. An A24 release.
To celebrate First Cow opening in our Virtual Cinema, watch Kelly Reichardt discuss her incredible body of work at Film at Lincoln Center, including our recent live Q&A:
Read Clinton Krute’s cover feature on First Cow from Film Comment‘s March-April 2020 issue.