Sean Kelly’s review published on Letterboxd:
When compared to the other films of Kelly Reichardt’s filmography, I would describe First Cow as a mix between the period setting of Meek’s Cutoff and the melancholy animal love in Wendy and Lucy. Even though the basic plot of First Cow is a relatively simple one, the film really takes its time at establishing the characters and setting, with it almost being an hour into the film before Cookie and King-Lu come up with their plan of milking the cow at night.
The story of First Cow is almost entirely dependent on the performances of John Magaro and Orion Lee as Cookie Figowitz and King-Lu, despite the film featuring some familiar names in the supporting cast, including Alia Shawkat, Ewen Bremner, and Toby Jones. Of these, it is Jones who becomes quite prominent in the second half of the film as Cookie and King-Lu’s pastries ironically attract the attention of Chief Factor, the very man they are stealing milk from.
Because of the film’s methodical pace, I admittedly found First Cow a difficult film to get into at first. However, the film picked up for me in the second half and I would ultimately say that First Cow is in line with the other films directed by Kelly Reichardt.