The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship."First Cow opens with this sentence, which the poet William Blake wrote in one of his books, "Proverbs of Hell". The sentence indicates that the bird lives and lives in its nest, the spider lives and lives in its web, and humans live and live in its friendship. With that sentence Kelly Reichardt - director and scriptwriter with Jonathan Raymond - built a film that uses friendship as its main theme.
Now we are in America, precisely in the Oregon Territory or Oregon Territory in 1820. A hand is seen picking up plants in the middle of a wild forest. He is Otis Figowitz (John Magaro), or who is usually called by his nickname "Cookie". Cookie is a cook for a group of animal skin hunters. His gentle, quiet and innocent nature is inversely proportional to the nature of the group that employs him, which consists of wild and aggressive groups of people.
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One night, he met King-Lu (Orion Lee) who was hiding in the bush and wearing no clothes. He admitted that he was running away from the Russians who were after him because Lu killed one of his friends. Whether that was true or not didn't matter, because Cookie was such a good person, so her next action was to provide Lu with food, clothes and a place to rest, something she did in secret. The next morning, Lu was gone. Last night was like a dream, but it really happened.
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They met again when they were at a bar at the local trading post, Fort Tillicum. Cookie is no longer with the group, and Lu has found a new place to live, a small cabin not far away. The two of them spent time chatting and exchanging dreams, what they want to do with their future. Lu thought he wanted to export beaver glands to China, which would be used as medicine. Cookie thinks she wants to open a bakery or hotel in San Francisco. “It's starting a new confusing thing. There's no way a poor person can start a new thing, ”Lu told Cookie.
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Cookie and Lu don't look like the two main characters in a film set in America in the 1800s. Cookie is a quiet cook and Lu is an immigrant whose past is still mysterious. If we look at the setting of this film, we must imagine a manly loner figure, unlike the two characters who do not seem to match each other, but against all odds, Cookie and Lu are two friends who not only support each other, but also complement each other with other.
How can they start new things, like they talked about before? By selling cakes. What's interesting is that milk is needed to make cakes and there are no cows in the area, except for one cow owned by the Chief Factor (Toby Jones), the only rich man in the area who brings in cows from other areas because it is rumored to want to use the milk for making tea "like a real British man." So the only way to be able to sell and pursue their dreams is to sneak up at night, when the whole house is asleep, and secretly milk the cows. Cookies are flushed, and Lu is watching the surroundings from the top of the tree.
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First Cow is a minimalist film, a style that has become the hallmark of director Kelly Reichardt. This is a film with a fairly slow storyline rate, but for a patient audience who is sure to get how intimate the film's story is. Especially with the 4: 3 ratio which not only gives a classic and old impression to the film, but also makes the story and the subject more sticky and more focused.
This film really relies heavily on its two main characters, and John Magaro and Orion Lee deliver truly stunning performances in a way that is not excited. I only remember John Magaro from his roles in The Big Short and The Umbrella Academy , but here he plays a very different character. With Cookie, John has played someone who doesn't act much, but everything he does is very gentle and caring, like talking to the cow he is milking or mixing the dough that will be prepared to make a cake.
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Orion Lee also perfectly plays a character that fits perfectly with characters like Cookie. King-Lu is someone who loves to talk, always pouring out his heart when he is spending time with Cookie. Whether it's just advice, a picture of the future, or just a plan of what he wants to do, its frenetic nature perfectly complements its closed Cookie nature. The friendship between the two of them is not only unique, but also very pronounced. And this is what makes First Cow so easy to love.
Not only friendship, but this film is also subtle but feels like bringing capitalism as a side dish, something that will feel like creeping in America in the future. Cookie and Lu, of course, by stealing it against the rules but it felt proper and courageous, tried to make their own fortune with one small act that they believed would help them achieve their ambitious dreams.
"History is not here yet, but it will come," Lu said. Whether it refers to a change that America will experience as a whole or a change to both, that statement does feel true. "It will come, but we got here early. Maybe now we will be better prepared to deal with it, ”he said as he returned to setting traps for the animals that would be used as food ingredients.
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