First Cow

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Dir: Kelly Reichardt
Cast: John Magaro, Orion Lee, Toby Jones
2020 | 122 mins | USA

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 and petty crime in the Old West.

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 but precarious cake-making business, the longevity of which is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow – the very first, and only, in the territory.

With this simple premise, Reichardt paints an authentic portrait of harsh frontier life in the early nineteenth century, depicting the immense, unsettling quietude of rural America and interrogating the very foundations on which the country was built.

Combining sumptuous cinematography with a gently melancholic tale of pilfered dairy, sweet cakes and old-fashioned camaraderie, First Cow is the celebrated magnum opus of one of cinema’s most vital independent filmmakers.

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