Some movies deal with the settling of the American West as mythic. And then there are films like writer/director Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, which strips it down to its basics for a more human scale and poetic vision of the Western era.
Minus winners and losers, villains and heroes, this is a sparsely settled, muddy world where some people seek fortunes, and others do what they need day-to-day to survive.
Set around 1820 in Oregon, the story centers on two men who form a bond of friendship. Cookie (John Magaro), makes his living as a cook for hire. As the film starts, he’s working for rough men: fur trappers who are wending their way through a forest gathering pelts on route to the trading post to cash in.
Cookie briefly encounters King-Lu (Orion Lee), a Chinese immigrant/adventurer who is hiding out in the woods from a group pf Russian immigrants who believe he murdered their companion. The idea that King-Lu is a murderer doesn’t put Cookie off. King-Lu is naked, cold and hungry. Cookie gives him food and shelter in his tent. Continue reading.