Friends plot milk heist in upcoming Shuswap Film Society screening, First Cow

Cinemaphile by Joanne Sargent

It’s 1820s Oregon, and gentle Otis Figowitz is simply “Cookie” to the rough and ready fur trappers he feeds.

While he’s foraging in the woods, the cook comes upon a naked King-Lu who says he is on the run from angry Russians, and Cookie offers him refuge. That act of kindness and a chance second meeting cement his friendship with the Chinese immigrant. Both dream of becoming rich, and their entrepreneurial opportunity presents itself when the Factor of their settlement brings to Oregon the First Cow, the title of our next Shuswap Film Society movie.

Cookie is an expert baker and knows that if he had milk he could make delicious baked goods to sell to the settlers. King-Lu proposes that he stand guard while Cookie secretly milks the Factor’s cow at night. They know it’s a dangerous game, but the biscuits are a hit, and business is so brisk that the friends may soon have enough money to move on. But can the furtive cake-makers quit while they’re ahead?

A rebuke to the masculinity of the Old West, First Cow is a simple story about male friendship built on kindness and mutual acceptance and a vision of the American dream. Set in the pristine beauty of the Oregon wilderness, this soft-spoken “heist” movie perfectly replicates the lives of these people two centuries ago: the slower pace, the harsh realities and simple pleasures, their hopes and dreams.

First Cow plays at 4 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10 at the Salmar Classic. Please remember your mask.

Read more: Q&A with VIFF’s B.C. Emerging Filmmaker Award winner, Jessie Anthony

Read more: Okanagan film society screening for scholarships

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