Psychology

When the Cows Come Home may be the most Kiwi movie ever

It’s hard to believe that a man who befriended two cows can hold your attention for 90 minutes.

When the Cows Come Home is the latest film from New Zealand filmmaker Costa Botes. Perhaps most famous for fooling the country with his Peter Jackson collaboration Forgotten Silver, which told the fictional story of Colin McKenzie, the greatest Kiwi who never lived.

However, this movie is completely real. It tells the story of Andrew Johnstone, a farmer in the Waikato region who saved two cows, Maggie & Tilly, from execution and found a new purpose with his cattle.

Johnstone has worn many hats, worked on radio and as a film critic for Rip It Up magazine in his life, but when he sees him interacting with his herd of cows, it is clear that he has found his calling.

Filmed over three visits to Cambridge, When the Cows Come Home is an incredibly raw film, unafraid to pull on the less flattering lines of Andrew’s life. The credits fly by at the end of the film, as you realize it’s usually just two men, a camera, and a bunch of cows.

Of course Botes wasn’t the only person working on the film, Tom McLeod’s score is a highlight of the film and adds a real emotional resonance to the piece.

Speaking to director Costa Botes, he told me he’s considering retiring after When the Cows Come Home, citing ill health and the stamina and stamina it takes to direct a movie.

If this is the last film from the experienced filmmaker, it will be a nice farewell, discussing what makes us happy, who we are and what we were put on this earth for.

I can’t think of anything more quintessentially New Zealand than a farmer who struggles with mental health issues and whose life has been changed by a friendship with some cattle.

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