Another low-budgeter from Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women, Wendy & Lucy) engages in its quiet, often glacial existence with her vivid, distinctive touch.
Even in her latest, where a Chinaman, played by Orion Lee and a cook a century prior to a prologue present-day the plot has taut and wit speckled into it. As it unfolds originality with periods feel is quite palpable.
The Columbia River leads to an Oregon settlement as the filmmaker and co-writer employs insight with abstruse to transporting effect. John Magaro’s cook isn’t able to please his strenuous bosses while on trek with fur trappers.
A chance meeting with the aforementioned pioneering Far Eastern fellow on the lam happens to begin a friendship with peril on the horizon. Especially after rooming together in a rundown cabin where a percolating idea really sets a parable of economics and politics in motion.
Actors like Toby Jones as a proprietor commissioning a cake demonstrate fidelity on both sides of the camera to a creator of nuanced material.
A co-producer in Scott Rudin reflects the kind of intimate power that can be produced in independent cinema by Reichardt where convention and neat endings aren’t part of the picture. In its laconic, nuanced ways First Cow attains noticeable poignancy from its striking tranquility.