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 but precarious cake-making business, the longevity of which is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow – the very first, and only, in the territory.
With this simple premise, Kelly Reichardt paints an authentic portrait of harsh frontier life in the early nineteenth century, depicting the immense, unsettling quietude of rural America and interrogating the very foundations on which the country was built.
Combining sumptuous cinematography with a gently melancholic tale of pilfered dairy, sweet cakes and old-fashioned camaraderie, First Cow is the celebrated magnum opus of one of cinema’s most vital independent filmmakers.
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This film is distributed by MUBI.
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