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Parents' Guide to


By Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Powerful documentary has upsetting content, brief language.

Movie NR 2022 94 minutes
Cow documentary film poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+
age 5+

The cows.

I looked at this film from the farmers point of view. The cows were in tiptop condition with great care to their feet which is necessary when they’ve been kept in a covered yard over winter. I worked with a much smaller dairy herd when I was in my teens many years ago and the principals really have not changed much although the herds are huge in comparison . The milking machines on their teats haven’t changed much. People want milk and meat - this dairy farm provides both. I thought it was an honest unsentimental film and I would certainly let children see it. The only real criticism I have is the dreadful piped music. I would also like to know how each cows milk yield is recorded. An excellent film that had me hooked from the beginning. I thought it had great educational value.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Oscar-winning director Andrea Arnold takes an unflinching and highly emotive look at the life of a dairy cow. Filmed from a cows'-eye view -- the camera often placed literally at this level -- Cow forgoes explanatory voice-overs, confident that the documentary footage itself is enough to portray the experience without moralizing or dramatizing. It is incredibly powerful stuff that's going to be hard to watch for most, no matter their views on dairy consumption. Which slightly begs the question, who is this for? There will be those who already understand this as truth and have opted out of dairy consumption, others who accept it as a fact of life and a necessary means to an end, and those who wish to look the other way. In which case, it seems unlikely they'd choose to sit through a 90-minute documentary that refuses to let them do so. The film invites viewers to look not only at the cows' experience, but directly into their big round eyes. And the cows are looking straight back.

Among the distressing scenes of overly full udders and isolated calves, tender interludes can be found as cows gently lick each other and nuzzle heads, or rush to the help of another's baby. Moments of relief also make an impact, such as when the cows are given space to roam in a field, clumsily jumping with joy at their freedom and gazing peacefully out at the stars. Each viewer will no doubt watch the film within the framework of their own beliefs. But while Arnold never anthropomorphizes Luma, it's difficult not to attribute feelings to her experience and to feel some emotion in return.

Movie Details

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