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First Cow Is Unlike Anything You’ve Seen



First Cow Is Unlike Anything You’ve Seen 13

First Cow (VOD)

Starring John Magaro, Orion Lee, Toby Jones, Ewen Bremner, Scott Shephard, Gary Farmer and Lily Gladstone.

Directed by Kelly Reichardt

Rating: *** ½

There  is a smacking elegance  about the way this  film takes us back to  America in  the 1800s. Periodicity is never an issue in  First Cow. Character- study is. And that’s what impels our attention iinto  submission as  the  film follows  the unlikely friendship between a travelling chef  nicknamed Cookie(get it?)  and a Chinese man King Lu who  share a friendship, a  ramshackle  home,and   a penchant  for making money by milking the local wealthy man’s cow in the  night.

 The main  attraction  here is the fable-like, dreamy  landscape  that the  director creates  in the lush thick jungles where we feel a distance  danger lurking,  a threat that we   never can poinpoint because outwardly everyone seems  civil and  normal. Cookie  and King Lu begin a new business together  of  selling delicious  baked delicacies  to the  locals, a chore that demands the participation  of the only cow  in the region albeit  without permission from the powerful owner.

Cookie cajoles the  regal  cow to part with its  precious milk every night. The  bond he builds with the cow  , tenderly whispers  to it as he  works  on its udders, is  a process of give-and-take  that  only a master storyteller could  have put on screen with such  authority.

First Cow is  a work of precious  delicacy  held together by actors who seem to belong to the era  that the  narrative  so  vividly  embraces.John Marago as  Cookie has the kindest face you will see  in   a long time. His  befriending of a Chineseman at a  time  when China  has given us much reason for distrust confers  the film with a political  innocence  that  most  viewers will find amusing.

 Some will say  the film has its head buried too deep in the sand to qualify as anything more than a fragile parable on ambition and greed. Even  on that level, First Cow  is a very special  work of  art. Believable in  its  dreamlike state,adorable in  its  affection for its characters comprising  mostly men who live  in a state of  perpetual uncertainty.

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