The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

First Cow

Denied its original March 2020 theatrical release due to the COVID pandemic, Kelly Reichardt’s majestic First Cow is back for a proper big screen viewing!

Set in 1820 Oregon, the film remarks on the natural beauty of its period in a boxy 1.37:1 aspect ratio and pastoral rhythms. It is the story of the first cow to walk the Oregon territories (freighted in from England), and it is the story of two fur trappers existing outside of history. Played by John Magaro and Orion Lee respectively, Cookie and King-Lu find each other amidst Reichardt’s angelic nature with a common mind and spirit: an eye towards the future and San Francisco. Their daring attempt at upward mobility in a settler society takes on a lyrical form as Cookie and King-Lu discuss their dreams and their history.

Known for her tender odes to capitalist failure, Kelly Reichardt effortlessly weaves another stirring portrait here in First Cow.


“One of the components of Reichardt’s mastery is that she trusts the audience’s intelligence and attention span enough to craft a cinema of traces, of small things suggesting larger truths. Her low-budget, self-edited dramas are exemplars of indie engineering, but they’re also impossible structures, somehow bigger on the inside than on the outside.”  – Adam Nayman, theringer.com

“The title character is played by a wide-eyed brown cow named Evie, who, no less than Magaro and Lee, gives a performance of understated wit and sly gravity.” – Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times

“What Reichardt and Raymond present is a story about the power of money in a world where money hardly seems useful. The power it accumulates is like a runaway train, snowballing and steamrolling the delicate webs of connection that humans so tentatively spin.” – Katie Walsh, Arizona Daily Sun