For her debut documentary feature, Andrea Arnold, director of Red Road, Fish Tank, and American Honey, observes a dairy cow named Luma as she goes about her day. An immersive, visceral experience, Arnold keeps her handheld camera as close to Luma as possible, from the calving process, the rearing of the herd, intensive milking sessions, an all too brief grazing period and, eventually, the inevitable. Arnold makes no attempt to aestheticise the animal and approaches her bovine subject with an honesty that is unflinching yet respectful, drawing the viewer into the lived experience of the cow and acknowledging her great service to us. As Arnold says, ‘the film is an endeavour to consider cows. To move us closer to them. To see both the beauty and the challenge of their lives. Not in a romantic way but in a real way’.
Notes by David O Mahony