Set in Chile, Spanish language film The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future is as intriguing and mystical as its name suggests. Directed by Francisca Alegria, the film begins with hundreds of fish dying in a polluted river when suddenly from among them emerges a woman. Magdalena, who drowned in the river many years previously, has miraculously returned from the dead. Unable to speak, Magdalena now communicates through electronical devices, but her return does not prompt the joy that she is hoping.
The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future is Alegria’s first feature length film and expands on some of the ideas she first explored in her short, And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye. This film is both a fable and an allegory. It is about both things that are tangible and things that are intangible. As such it is shot in a beautifully, poetic manner. The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future draws the audience into a world that is not necessarily beautiful, and others often threaten to spoil its beauty, but is made to look so. The cinematography also plays into the theme of respecting and honouring our environment.
Whilst the film’s visuals do everything to pull the audience in, The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future is actually a strangely detached experience for the most part. Certain ideas are brushed upon, and then discarded or feel stylistically out of place such as a subplot where Magdalena becomes involved with some activists. Meanwhile other ideas are underplayed and meant only symbolically. With that in mind, it can be hard to find the required emotional involvement to really empathise with the characters and their situations. The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future is a myriad of ideas and notions and it challenges its audience to think deeply about our own choices and the choices of those we love. Without a doubt this is a thematically rich and provocative watch. However, the overload of themes may alienate some audiences who crave a more straightforward presentation of similar issues.
Part magical realism, part sci fi and part horror, The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future is an intriguing blend of genres and ideas. It is impressive for everything that it is trying to and trying to convey but often its earnestness and profundity works to its detriment. Like a kite that soars high above, The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future is a beauty to behold. Yet sometimes the breeze threatens to rip it away from you entirely and you are left to watch it float away.
Drama, World Cinema | Chile, 2022 | 15 | Cinema | 24th March 2023 (UK) | Sovereign Film Distribution | Dir. Francisca Alegria | Mía Maestro, Enzo Ferrada Rosati, Benjamin Soto, Leonor Varela