First Cow (2020)

7.4
  • Genre: Drama History
  • Release date: March 06, 2020
  • Running time: 2h 02min
  • Production Country(ies): US
A taciturn loner and skilled cook has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant 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.
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  • SWITCH.

    'First Cow' may show an origin of capitalism, but unlike the wild west of Wall Street, Reichardt points to an alternate reality where it's not the muscle of capitalism that conquers, but rather the sweet companionship and commitment to fellowship that will, not the greed of self-interest. In Reichardt's world, greed is a modern illness, and it's only when Cookie and King-Lu's solidarity falters that their lives begin to unravel. People will succeed in cooperation, not at the expense of others - a lesson that feels even more important now in 2020 than it may have ever felt in 1820. - Joel Kalkopf Read Joel's full article... https://www.maketheswitch.com.au/article/review-first-cow-a-minimalist-portrait-of-the-american-dream 8/10/2020 4 stars

  • msbreviews

    If you enjoy reading my Spoiler-Free reviews, please follow my blog @ https://www.msbreviews.com As you should know by now, I love watching films as blind as possible: no trailers and a minimum amount of information about the plot (or none at all). A24 became such a popular studio that I don’t even need to know anything else about the movie, I’m always in. Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, and Columbia might be the Big Five of film studios, but gradually people are starting to shift their attention to smaller, independent ones who deliver fewer movies per year, but a higher ratio of great films. This is also the very first movie I watch from Kelly Reichardt. The simplest of research will show everyone that her films are meant to heavily divide critics and audiences, so which side do I fall on this time? I’m not trying to patronize anyone, but First Cow belongs to that category of movies that audiences hate and critics love simply due to the slow pacing and minimalist story. Audiences will look at this flick as a dull, long, uneventful story, while critics will not only appreciate its remarkable technical attributes, but also the sweet, simple narrative that delivers quite a nice message about friendship, loyalty, but also greed and power. I’m not on either extreme, but I did enjoy this flick. Overall, I actually agree with each group’s praises and criticisms. On one hand, this small story feels refreshing and pretty relaxing, having in mind Hollywood is packed with visually overwhelming blockbusters. It’s a weird yet therapeutic couple of hours where the viewer follows two friends trying to get by. Cookie has the cooking abilities and smart ideas, while King-Lu uses his sense of opportunity to bring his friends’ ideas to life. The chemistry between John Magaro and Orion Lee is phenomenal, making their characters’ friendship feel incredibly authentic. The dialogues seem spontaneous and realistic. The editing (also performed by Reichardt) contains few cuts, letting the conversations flow naturally and the action to unravel at a slow, calm pace (in life, things don’t arrive fast one after the other). On the other hand, the simplistic narrative is also rather predictable, and it loses the viewer’s attention occasionally due to the constant dragging out of several sequences where nothing truly happens, story and/or character-wise. It’s undoubtedly a slow-burn, nothing wrong with that, but it just isn’t able to be effective throughout the entire runtime. Christopher Blauvelt’s cinematography looks gorgeous, and William Tyler’s subtle score is particularly pleasant, but visuals and atmosphere can’t carry a screenplay for more than two hours. When the story gets going, it’s definitely captivating, but it gets itself stuck during short periods spread throughout the whole film. In the end, Reichardt and Jon Raymond’s well-written screenplay transmits a pretty kind message developed through two characters who need to find a way to make a living, to improve their lives. Their personalities are distinct, balancing their friendship with both their personal qualities and flaws. Reichardt picks up the co-written narrative and gives it an excellent direction, which apparently has given this duo great success. Hopefully, they’ll keep making movies for everyone to enjoy, some more than others. All in all, First Cow possesses one of A24’s trademarks: unconventional storytelling. Kelly Reichardt and Jon Raymond deliver a well-written screenplay, telling a minimalist story that will probably divide critics and audiences due to its purposefully slow pace and uneventful narrative. Reichardt, who also edited the film, takes a simple premise and gives it a realistic, grounded, layered direction characterized by genuine conversations and a true friendship. John Magaro and Orion Lee offer flawless performances, elevating their characters with emotionally palpable chemistry. Beautiful cinematography and a subtle score help the movie create a relaxing atmosphere different from the usual Hollywood flicks. Nevertheless, its runtime features dragged out moments, a predictable development story-wise, and while the film’s message is quite sweet, it can become a bit of a tedious journey to experience. Overall, I recommend it to anyone who just wants to peacefully watch a simple movie with a great message without caring about how long it takes to reach the end. Rating: B

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