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“COW” My rating: B- (On Demand)

94 minutes | No MPAA rating

If there is an agenda buried within Andrea Arnold’s “Cow,” I can’t find it.

This documentary from the Oscar-winning maker of “Fish Tank,” “Wuthering Heights,” the Kansas City-lensed “American Honey” and HBO’s “Big Little Lies” follows the life of a cow on an English dairy farm.

There is no narration, no on-screen titles, no real dialogue from the few humans who slip in and out of the frame.

Mostly the film is about a cow, beginning with its birth and ending with…well, I’m not going there.

The doc’s brief glimpses of humans suggest working folk going about their business.  They’re not sentimental about the animals, but then neither are they overtly cruel.

Our bovine heroine — the production notes identify her as Luma — is separated from her mother just days after birth. By necessity she  learns to nurse from a bucket with a rubber nipple (which doesn’t stop her from shoving her nose at the netherparts of her fellow calves in a pathetic search for her mama’s warm udders).

As she grows her horns are burned off and her hooves filed down with an electric grinder (neither procedure appears to cause pain…but who knows?). Each day she goes out with the other cows to graze; in the evening they obediently return to the barn where they will be milked by suction-powered machines.

Magda Kowalczyk’s handheld camera effectively captures the grittiness (not to mention mucus) of animal husbandry, though there are too many moments of “Blair Witch” blurriness and nauseous jiggling.

Whatever emotions a viewer takes away from “Cow” will be, I suspect, the emotions they bring to the experience, since Arnold isn’t showing her cards.

If you’ve grown up on a farm this will all seem pretty ho-hum. Farm animals are a commodity, after all. Grow ‘em, use ‘em, eat ‘em.

If you’re an animal rights activist you’ll probably see Luma’s life as one of forced servitude and the film as a vegan call to arms.  It’s not like this gentle creature has any say in the daily grind or the trajectory of her existence.

Going in, I was half afraid that after watching “Cow” I’d be forever unable to chow down on a burger or plate of ribs.  Not the case.

But it does raise the question of just what Arnold wants us to feel.

| Robert W. Butler

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