‘First Cow’ Review: Kelly Reichardt’s Sweet Buddy Movie Is ‘Old Joy’ in the Oregon Territory

‘First Cow’ Review: Kelly Reichardt’s Sweet Buddy Movie Is ‘Old Joy’ in the Oregon Territory
Few filmmakers wrestle with what it means to be American the way Kelly Reichardt has injected that question into all of her movies. In a meticulous fashion typical of her spellbinding approach, “First Cow” consolidates the potent themes of everything leading up to it: It returns her to the nascent America of the 19th century frontier at the center of “Meek’s Cutoff,” touches on the environmental frustrations of “Night Moves,” revels in the glorious isolation of the countryside in “Certain Women,” and the somber travails of vagrancy at the center of “Wendy and Lucy.”

Mostly, though, “First Cow” unfolds like “Old Joy” in the Oregon Territory. Once again, The appeal of this hypnotic, unpredictable movie comes from how they find that place through mutual failure, and the nature of that outcome in the context of an early, untamed America has rich implications that gradually seep into the frame. Reichardt
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