First Cow

2019, Kelly Reichardt, USA

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Producers: Vincent Savino,
Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani
Screenplay: Jon Raymond, Kelly Reichardt,
from the novel by Jon Raymond
Cinematography: Christopher Blauvelt
Editor: Kelly Reichardt
Music: William Tyler
Alia Shawkat (Woman with Dog)
John Magaro (Otis Figowitz [Cookie])
Dylan Smith (Trapper Jack)
Toby Jones (Chief Factor)
Orion Lee (King-Lu)
Lily Gladstone (Chief Factor’s Wife)
Ewen Bremner (Lloyd)
Clayton Nemrow (Trapper Clyde)


Rating: PG violence and coarse language Runtime: 122 minutes

With Kelly Reichardt, one of Wellington Film Society’s favourite directors at the helm, we could not resist programming First Cow as the first of two cow-themed films in our 2024 programme.

Reichardt is in her element, returning to the Pacific Northwest setting of most of her films, and the theme of American westward expansion seen in Meek’s Cutoff (her only other period piece). First Cow is the story of easygoing baker Cookie (John Magaro) and his ambitious business partner King-Lu (Orion Lee) who hatch a plan to get rich selling baking to the misfits settling in the fledgling Oregon Territory (with the help of a very special cow). 

First Cow serves as an interesting companion piece to Killers of the Flower Moon (2023) and not just because Scorsese is, like us, a big fan of Reichardt. It depicts a period of American history when industry boomed once colonial capital gained access to a natural resource like fur, gold or oil. Although First Cow is primarily about its white and Chinese leads, Reichardt is keenly aware of the impact of the boom on the Indigenous population. Check out Killers’ Lily Gladstone (who stole the show in Reichardt’s 2016 film Certain Women) in a supporting role here, bearing witness to ‘the future’ arriving to her land.


Feb 26 2024


6:15 pm - 8:20 pm