‘First Cow’: Kelly Reichardt’s Follow-Up to ‘Certain Women’ Is a Period Piece Set in Oregon and China

If your first thought upon hearing the words “First Cow” is “that must be the name of the new Kelly Reichardt movie,” congratulations on your savvy. A casting call for the “Certain Women,” “Meek’s Cutoff,” and “Wendy & Lucy” director’s next project notes that the film is set to shoot from November 2–December 11 under production company FilmScience (“I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” “Green Room”), meaning we could see it as early as next year.

Here’s a brief synopsis: “When Cookie Figowitz, the cook for a party of volatile fur trappers trekking through the Oregon Territory in the 1820s, joins up with the refugee Henry Brown, the two begin a wild ride that takes them from the virgin territory of the West all the way to China and back again.” The casting call is only for extras, suggesting that the roles of Cookie and Henry have either already been filled or are being cast elsewhere.

A note about the film’s use of Native American talent — which is intended to be more thoughtful and accurate than that of most other movies — provides further details about the plot: “This film is an independently-produced narrative fiction set in an Oregon fur trading post in the 1820s. During this time, European settlers and Native Americans traded furs and other goods as foreigners settled in the region. The Native American characters in this film are people who live in & around the trading post and vendors at the local market.”

“Certain Women,” which starred Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Lily Gladstone, premiered to great acclaim at Sundance in 2016 and eventually became Reichardt’s most financially successful film.

According to Ion Cinema, “First Cow” is an adaptation of at least one half of Jonathan Raymond’s novel “The Half Life,” which tells of two different events that take place more than 170 years apart.

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