There are few words for the last 20 minutes or so of “The Cow That Sang to the Future,” a slow-burning fable by writer-director Francisca Alegria. The final act of the film shows a shattered family being wandered, thrown in different directions, and confused by recent bizarre events on the dairy farm. The power of Alegría’s feature-length debut is not found in dialogue or exposition, but in the lyrical and magical realism of folklore: disappointing mothers and fathers, sacred animals and cursed rivers, love and forgiveness. increase.
At the beginning of the film, a woman (Mia Maestro) bubbles up from the water and lands on a river bank filled with dead fish. At her shop, her old man (Alfredo Castro) sees her and collapses. She is miraculously alive and does not age even a day, and is believed to be Magdalena, the wife of the man who mysteriously committed suicide by drowning himself several decades ago, leaving him and two children behind. Soon after, the man’s daughter Cecilia (Leonor Barrera) returns to her family’s farm to care for her upset father. Cecilia grapples with her mother’s death and her teenage child’s transgender identity.
When Magdalena returns to the farm, the family begins to reflect on their complicated past. The cows that Magdalena has loved for so long begin to behave strangely as they struggle with the reality of factory farming. Through these animals, the film is both an allegorical prayer, an ode to man’s failure to one another and to the world in which he lives, a spell calling for a kind of return and reversal.
Though often elliptical, Alegria’s director is patient and of good quality for a film that could easily fall prey to sanctification. In this film, the purest truth is seen through the eyes of the cows. The sad stares of the mothers and the tragic innocence of the torn calf.
The cow that sang a song to the future
Unrated. Spanish, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. at the theater.