(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

COW is a cinema verité documentary that follows the life of a dairy cow in England. From the first scene, where we welcome a calf to a life of pain, and watch the calf taking in information about its strange new world, director Andrea Arnold gives us almost entirely close-ups and handheld camerawork. (The calf is not the title character; its mother is.) The film has no real dialogue; it is strictly in terms of what a cow would hear, as the herders talk to the occasional vet or give brief commands to the cows. The young calves show some vitality and life while the older cows and bull stand around and look stolid.

We do not really learn much from the film. It took scientists a while to realize that cows make friends with other in much the same way that humans do, and that does not come out at all. We see a lot of unexplained operations, e.g., putting blue liquid on a cow's head, planing off the bottoms of its hooves, etc. (It turns out the blue liquid was part of a de-horning process, at least according to one review.)

This is the bovine version of THE TRUMAN SHOW, though the environment is real rather than artificially created. The handheld camera work has been ((accurately) described as "nausea-inducing", and the overwhelming impression the viewer is left with is just that cows lead boring lives.

(Arnold has said this was not intended as a pro-animal-rights film, though many people see it that way.)

Released theatrically 8 April 2022; available on various streaming services. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

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					Mark R. Leeper
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