Women with Cows

It's midsummer in Sweden. Cows lumber down a rural road followed by a bent figure, covered in flies, hair a mad tangle . . . and she's smiling. Meet Britt, who at seventy-nine and despite an ancient back injury that has her literally doubled over, tends to the cows she loves in sunshine or blizzard. “The more you milk, the better you feel,” she believes. Not so her sister, Inger, who left her father's farm as a teenager, raised a family of her own, and now finds herself back in the manure, reluctantly abetting Britt's efforts, milking and complaining in equal measure in this Grey Gardens for the rural set. You couldn't make up a character like Britt-nor a kinship as thorny as that of these two sisters-and director Peter Gerdehag knows it. He gets the most from his rich subjects and subject matter through an observant camera (his own), exquisite editing (by Tell Aulin), and an imaginative sound design (by Per-Henrik Mäenpää). Truly, though, one has to credit the sisters themselves, good sports to the end in the making of a film that spans the seasons and their days, good and bad. It must have been hard work-if not as hard as milking cows.

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