A moo-vie that has us worried about the cows.
“Cow” is a sad and poignant documentary about the day in the life of cows at a farm in the U.K. It’s all about the routines-how they must be feed, how they must frolic in the fields, how the females must be milked, and how they must give birth to hopefully more female cows. No narrators, no writing, and no visual appeal, just a documentation of what they go through every day on the farm.
I was reminded of “Stray” from last year, which was about dogs surviving through the streets of Istanbul. Both these films care more about the animals than the humans, who just come and go. In fact, in “Cow,” their dialogue is mostly overshadowed by the background noises. But as we were concerned about the dogs in “Stray,” we’re more concerned about the bovine in “Cow.”
It’s also pretty explicit at times, when we see the cow giving birth, getting tagged and branded, and eventually getting shot in the head. I don’t recommend this doc to animal lovers or people with delicate constitutions. I recommend this to people who are curious about how they live their lives on the farm without any voice actors or scripts. After all, life has no screenplays.
Thankfully, the movie doesn’t care about the slaughterhouse. It cares about how the cows breathe the air, eat the grass, run in the mud, and lick and care for their calves. And yet, you still feel bad for what they went and will eventually go through. I know I did while watching it.
“Cow” was directed by Andrea Arnold in her first movie since “American Honey,” and both she and cinematographer Magda Kowalczyk both do a fabulous job of photographing the lives and challenges, while cutting back on the narration. It’s more about how we should see them in various aspects, and how life can be easy or cruel.
To tell you my experiences and humor I’ve come across. I’ve been on a dairy farm once in Vermont, and was able to milk one of the cows, and drink the milk afterwards. I was in my teens, but it grossed out my mother and cousin, who were also worried about the smell. And when I was in Ireland, and we saw some cows, my cousin asked: “Can you get meat from a cow without killing it?” and my father responded: “Yeah, they sh*t steaks.”
Besides, even if you take a few parts of the cow for food, you’re still abusing it. If you do see this documentary, you should be glad they don’t go to the slaughter house. You just see them wandering around, and being bossed around during the milking procedure and so forth.
I can’t give “Cow” a full 4-star review, because I was squeamish during a few pregnancy scenes and I was worried about what will eventually happen to the cows, but I can give it a good review for its ability to document these beautiful creatures. Cows have feelings, too, and this movie wants us to acknowledge that. But I guess we already knew that.
In Select Theaters and On Demand This Friday