Alegria’s film is rich with atmosphere, beginning with its opening images of sickened fish washing up on a riverbank and taking their last desperate gasps. Later, a lone cow stands in a forest amid strands of moonlight and seems to stare directly into our souls. Swarms of bees take flight in formation as if sending a message from the gray skies above. And yes, a mournful song is woven throughout, hence the title. But “The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future” also requires great patience—it might be too slow of a slow burn—and there’s not much to her characters beyond a few barely sketched traits.
Maestro’s Magdalena emerges fully clothed and helmeted from the Cruces River and wanders the land, dripping wet, with the moody beats of a horror movie. We will learn that she died in a motorcycle crash that may or may not have been an accident. It’s a little unclear how she can interact with the living world; the rules constantly evolve. She can’t speak, but she can impact electronics, and people can see her, which is how she startles her widower husband, Pablo (Benjamin Soto). He’s understandably so shocked by the sight of his deceased wife, looking as beautiful as she did the day she died, that he winds up in the hospital.
This prompts his surgeon daughter, Cecilia (Leonor Varela), to travel there with her own children to help care for the family’s dairy farm. Cecilia’s emotional disconnect with her mother has trickled down to how she parents: She refuses to accept that her daughter is transgender, insisting on calling her teenager Tomás (Enzo Ferrada Rosati). But while we see her dressing in feminine clothes, makeup, and earrings, we never learn what name she’d prefer. Her younger daughter has even less characterization.