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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 business, although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a nearby wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow. From this simple premise Reichardt constructs a haunting interrogation of foundational Americana that recalls her earlier triumph Old Joy in its sensitive depiction of male friendship, yet is driven by a mounting suspense all its own. Reichardt again shows her distinct talent for depicting the peculiar rhythms of daily living and ability to capture the immense, unsettling quietude of rural America.
Mature content for language and violence: recommended for ages 13+
"Kelly Reichardt's manifest-destiny epic in D minor...gives you the feeling that you've just witnessed a major work from a great American filmmaker."
- David Fear, Rolling Stone
"Kelly Reichardt is really probing at questions about the American identity and she does that so well in First Cow -- my favorite of her films now."
- Amy Nicholson, FilmWeek (KPCC - NPR Los Angeles)