Recent Movie Marathon: First Cow (2020)

Happy New Year! Today I’ll be sharing my reviews of a binge watch of recent films (released within the past 18 months or so)!

Title: First Cow
Release Date: March 6, 2020
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Production Company: FilmScience | IAC Films

Set in the Oregon Country of 1820, when indigenous people, Europeans, and Asians all interacted in a system of trade around a rudimentary fort, two men who don’t quite fit in with the rugged frontier meet and form a partnership. Otis “Cookie” Figowitz is an American who has come west to serve as a chef for fur trappers, and King-Lu (Orion Lee) is a Chinese man on the run for killing a Russian in self-defense. After Cookie helps King-Lu to escape, Lu returns the favor by letting Cookie share his shack.

Cookie fantasizes about the foods that he could make if only he had milk, and so ends up stealing milk under the dark of night from the first cow brought into the territory by prosperous British trader, Chief Factor (Toby Jones in possibly his least creepy role ever). Lu is more entrepreneurial of the pair, and encourages Cookie to sell his biscuits to the traders at the fort. They prove to be very popular – and profitable – and so Cookie and Lu continue to commit lactic larceny in hopes of selling enough biscuits to raise money for a future restaurant. But it’s only a matter of time before Chief Factor catches on to where these two nobodies are getting their milk and the tension slowly grows.

It’s not a huge spoiler since the opening scene set in the present day shows a bad omen for these two men that things are not going to go well. Nevertheless, the movie is oddly charged with hope for these two gentle beings to find a place of safety and prosperity in a world that doesn’t seem to have space for them. The movie is absolutely beautiful and the acting is naturalistic and well-done. The score of the movie is also quite excellent. This movie is definitely too slow-paced for some viewers, but if you’re the type who likes to soak in the details you will enjoy this excellent period piece.

Rating: ****

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