Rent First Cow (2019)

3.1 of 5 from 442 ratings
1h 56min
Rent First Cow Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Synopsis:
Award-winning director Kelly Reichardt (Meek's Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy) returns with the eagerly awaited 'First Cow', a gripping and glorious story of friendship, petty crime and the pursuit of the American dream on the harsh frontier of the Pacific Northwest. In 1820's Oregon, two loners team up to seek their fortune through a scheme to steal milk from the wealthy landowner's prized Jersey cow - the first, and only, in the territory. A true masterpiece from one of the great modern American filmmakers.
Actors:
, , , , , , , , Evie, , Jared Kasowski, , , , , , , , ,
Directors:
Producers:
Neil Kopp, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani
Writers:
Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
Studio:
Mubi
Genres:
Action & Adventure, Drama
Collections:
10 Films to Watch if You Like: EO, 2021, CinemaParadiso.co.uk Through Time, Films to Watch If You Like..., What to Watch Next If You Liked Nomadland
BBFC:
Release Date:
09/08/2021
Run Time:
116 minutes
Languages:
English Dolby Digital 2.0, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
Colour:
Colour
Bonus:
  • Making Of Featurette
BBFC:
Release Date:
09/08/2021
Run Time:
121 minutes
Languages:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
Colour:
Colour
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • Making Of Featurette

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Reviews (10) of First Cow

Hair-tearingly slow - First Cow review by Alphaville

Spoiler Alert
24/08/2021

If you know director Kelly Reichardt (eg Meek’s Cutoff) you’ll know her films are deathly slow. As soon as this opens you know you’re in for a long haul, with still shots that go on forever. 15 minutes in and all that’s happened is that someone has picked some mushrooms. Then it gets worse. At least you can see the mushrooms. Much of the rest is filmed in darkness because there was no artificial lighting back in Old Oregon, don’t you know.

The thing is, you see, Kelly doesn’t make films. She seems like a nice person, but she makes anti-films. Which must be why the arthouse crowd like her, because otherwise her success is unfathomable. She even films in the old 4:3 ratio, apparently for close-ups but patently because the big wide screen is beyond her capabilities. She should exhibit in a conceptual art gallery for like-minded souls who think Duchamp’s urinal constitutes high art. A cow appears in a few scenes.

Here’s some advice, Kelly. Open up the screen, learn what a camera can do, learn to compose a shot, learn to edit, stop shooting in the dark, give your actors more to do than mumble and add at least a modicum of life to the occasional scene. In short, watch some real films and go to film school.

8 out of 13 members found this review helpful.

Over, over too too much much., little little. - First Cow review by AM

Spoiler Alert
17/10/2021

I would give it a half star in the hope it would not be so self indulgent playing to an audience of self indulgent film makers. This is turgid. The fact is the long shot of the ship going from left to right is not just an intro scene, it is the film. In its entirety. It is bad bad bad bad bad bad bad. Yes that is what it does. It repeats scenes again and again. The director must be a really boring individual individual individual individual individual individual individual. 

Thank heavens society is more inclusive.  

4 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

Self indulgent rubbish - First Cow review by RB

Spoiler Alert
19/10/2021

The first shot is a tortuously long one of a ship traveling up a river, then a woman discovers a skeleton. Cut to protracted shots of more boats and a dog sniffing it’s arse and we are back to the now uncovered skeleton (heaven knows why she doesn’t call the police). Now it’s a flashback to some appalling bad acting and the realisation than the whole film is shot on a blurry old camera in a strange orientation. I gave up at that point. If the actors and director can’t be bothered then I’m afraid I can’t either.

4 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

First Cow review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso

With another direcotr, First Cow would’ve either been a melodramatic minutiae of 19th century living or a stirring heist picture with Americana twang. But director Kelly Reichardt pretty much delivers on the satisfyingly contemplative nature her films are known for. There’s an ease and awareness to such picture that even when it deals in the dangerous there’s a harmony to it all. Her film not only allows us to get to know and love the story of two men trying to make ends meet, but also gives us an air of gravity to the era, letting us feels its dirty and lonely essence.

The story concerns two men who have fallen into dangerous lives. Cookie had dreams of being a baker but settled for being the cook of a group of mean fur traders. King is a Chinese immigrant on the run from some Russians after a crime he committed out of desperation. The two meet under cover of darkness when King is on the run and Cookie is all alone. King asks for help and Cookie, ever the kind soul, offers the fugitive room by his fire and a meal for his stomach. They’ll part ways, but end up finding each other again at a tavern. King then invites Cookie up to his cabin and they hit off their relationship well, telling jokes in between contemplating their futures.

Cookie dreams of baking again and tells King that he’d love to make biscuits. All he’s missing to make them is milk. The good news is that there’s a cow in the area. The bad news it belongs to a wealthy British elite, unwilling to share his livestock’s bounty with anyone. King, having already broken the law before, recommends they just steal the milk under cover of darkness. His outlook comes from an opportunist angle that he doubt adopted from the mindset of conquering North America. There’s a moment that perfectly encapsulates this tone when Cookie and King wander through the wood, harping on how America is still early in its development of history and that they have the opportunity to seize it early. The milk, King feels, is that moment. Sure enough, Cookie’s stealing of the milk brings biscuits. Biscuits bring profit. That profit, however, attracts the rich English owner of the cow who intends to hire Cookie as a baker for his estate.

While the story does get tense as the fear of discovery mounts and bubbles over in the more fearful third act, it was always felt that there was a gentle charm to the whole experience. Cookie has tenderness to him that can be felt all around. Some of his best moments are between him and the cow, delicately speaking earnestly with the milk-giving animal in a manner that is calm and sweet. King has a warmth to him that is so infectious it’s easy to understand how Cookie agreed to midnight milk thievery so quickly. He has a chipper spirit, an inviting nature, and is so grateful for the company of Cookie. They have such a great connection that when they’re split apart it’s heartbreaking and when they reunite it’s a great relief.

Reichardt’s direction is slow yet engrossing, allowing many nothing moments to make the environment have its own voice. This is perhaps most pronounced in the opening scene which reveals the ultimate fate of Cookie and King in modern times. That scene may seem like nothing in that we don’t return to the present, but it does give a focussed perspective on what the film is trying to tell us about the American landscape, in both nature and business. Even for being a film that clearly takes dead-aim at capitalism, there’s an exceptionally enduring edge to how it portrays its characters as just trying to get along and do what they love. Even the more antagonist English owner of the cow as well as the victimized Native Americans of the region don’t seem as bound by prejudice, at least to the exaggerated degree that is often favored for period pieces.

First Cow is such a perfectly paced film that finds a warmth amid its grimy struggles of 1820s America. It’s certainly not going to be everybody’s cup of tea (or glass of milk?), those willing to let the film flow over them will find a uniquely human picture that tries to find some connection with the land we occupy and how we use it. It’s another strong film from the already accomplished Reichardt.

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