The Portuguese title given to “The First Cow” tells us about “America’s first cow,” and aside from a joke, this is at least a misplaced decoy. Kelly Richart is set in the year 1820, and at the time, cows in the United States were already counted in the dozens… herds. It was the Spaniards who took them about 300 years ago to the New World and landed them in what is now Mexico – let’s be clear with the story because this movie deserves that grit. No, what Kelly Richart tells us is the supposed first cow that arrived, yes, in Oregon County – a mountainous region of Northern California then was inhospitable, almost wild at the time of the filming.
There is a big difference here. “The First Cow” fits into a specific section of the novel “Half-Life” by Jonathan Raymond, the director’s regular collaborator and screenwriter for nearly all of his films since Old Joy. Notably, Kelly, who was born and raised in Florida (her first movie “River of Glass” was still filming between Miami and the Everglades), settled in Portland, the capital of Oregon (just as she once did. Jos Van Sant). All of his films (except for the recent “Determined Women”) are directly related to that region.
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