First Cow

First Cow ★★★★

Thinking about the one frame of that single buttery biscuit sitting in the windowsill made my heart absolutely ache today, even three weeks after my initial viewing. The simple offering of homemade food is probably the most tender and pure expression of love, even more so in a landscape where material belongings were few and far in between.

So surprised at how much this film has sat with me, especially because it is so quiet and ruminative throughout most of its runtime. I am just in awe at the way Reichardt renders this slice of history. Despite its rather understated narrative, this tale set in no-man's-land early America feels mythic.

Here, the Northwestern frontier is a rugged, Garden of Eden where everything is a First of its kind, everything is still a promise yet to be fulfilled or broken. Cookie and King-Lu's friendship feels like the prototype; the First Friends building the First American Dream upon the back of the First Cow in the territory. We see this intrepid duo carve out their own tiny corner of this unfeeling land and then watch them lose it all to the men with more money and more guns. I was so struck by the visual of the shabby fence standing around that sweet, pretty cow where there once stood no barriers at all. The image is so tragic, as if it captured the very moment where the promise of opportunity and equity succumbed to the promise of entitlement and exploitation in the collective American imagination.