There’s nothing cloying or corny about the way Arnold depicts these beasts. What she gives us is a straightforward slice of a cow’s relentless life of muck, milk, breeding and feeding.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
No matter which way one looks at it — whether at cow-level or not — the lives of these animals are not happy ones. Therefore, the ethical question that remains isn’t about whether these animals are being treated well or not, but simply about what we are willing to live with.
The small miracle of director Andrea Arnold’s experiential documentary is that it enacts its simple premise in straightforward terms, but assembles them into a profound big picture.
A filmmaker infectiously attuned to movement, Arnold finds a horrible, hypnotic rhythm in these gruelingly looped procedures, though she doesn’t shoot them with any surplus beauty.
The main problem, on the surface, is why would you watch it? It’s certainly not a crowd pleaser, but there is remarkable film craft on display, plenty of moments of wonder and beauty, some heart-melting tenderness and a finale to match “The Irishman.”
The Hollywood Reporter by Jordan Mintzer
Arnold plunges us straight into her subject’s point-of-view and never leaves it until the bitter end, during a final scene that’s shocking in its bluntness.
The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw
There is something very heartfelt and committed about Andrea Arnold’s film: a poignancy and intimacy.
There remains something unknowable about Luma, but while that proves a limitation, Cow also turns it into a strength. We wonder what’s she thinking, and then we put ourselves in her place — and realise it’s not a great place to be.