Thou Wast Mild and Lovely

Directed by Josephine Decker
USA | 2014 | 79 min | thriller English

When Akin arrives at the farm, he finds his job. This is what he expected to find. When Sarah opens her legs, she finds someone watching. This is what she expected to find. When Jeremiah opens his mouth, frightening things come out of it. This has come to be expected. But what happens by the creek next to the cow. This was not expected. Thou Wast Mild and Lovely is a highly intimate and subtly erotic thriller inspired by John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and featuring love, death, guns, goats, a farmer, his grown daughter and the secrets they no longer succeed in keeping.

Cast & Crew

Director: Josephine Decker
Screenplay: Josephine Decker, David Barker
Cinematography: Ashley Connor
Editing: Josephine Decker, David Barker, Steven Schardt
Cast: Joe Swanberg (Akin), Sophie Traub (Sarah), Robert Longstreet (Jeremiah), Kristin Slaysman (Drew), Geoff Marslett (Richard)
Producers: Laura Klein, Laura Heberton, Lavallette Interests Ltd. Russell Sheaffer
Co-producers: Adam Donaghey, Rachel Wolther, Braden King, Linday Olbrych
Production company: Third Room Productions

  • Josephine Decker
    Josephine Decker

Festivals & Awards
Berlinale Forum
Hong Kong International Film Festival
BAMcinemaFest New York
Maryland Film Festival
Nashville Film Festival
Sarasota Film Festival
Independent Visions Award – Tangerine Entertainments Juice Award
Sidewalk Film Festival
Fantasia Film Festival
Galway Film Fleadh
Imagine Film Festival
Roffa Mon Amour

press quotes

The simplicity and spontaneity of “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely” offers the primal renewal of the image. It’s as if the movie were undergirded by a sense of timeless authority borrowed from scripture.
Richard Brody, The New Yorker

The talk of the Berlin International Film Festival… with tense eroticism and experimental, largely free-form filmmaking
Peter Knegt, Indiewire

Decker’s luridly poetic vision luxuriates in the ethereal and the mythical. [The performances are] sure to haunt many a nightmare. Don Simpson, Smells Like Screen Spirit With its characterful acting, and potently nerve-jangling string score, the film delivers an intriguing slant on rural-peril convention.
Jonathan Romney, Screen International

a dream-like exploration of sexuality and tragedy.
Phil Lederer, SRQ Backlot

the unholy marriage of Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch
Eric Kohn, Indiewire

like a Flannery O’Connor short story shot by Cindy Sherman…. Berlinale audience was stunned by her movies.
Dmitry Volchek, Svoboda

Unquestionably one of the biggest joys of the festival was the discovery of young female director Josephine Decker… From the first blurry
shots of Butter on the Latch to the wonderfully insane ending of Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, Decker gave her audiences two thrilling cinematic rides that were refreshingly unconventional and often experimental, all in all shamelessly wild and almost bursting with energy and artistic dynamism.
Toby Ashraf, Stil in Berlin

brazenly surreal approach
Patrick Gamble, The Skinny (UK)

Last year brought “Upstream Color,” “To the Wonder,” and “Butter on the Latch.” “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely” is the latest, and, to my mind, the most extreme, of these new films. It’s not a conclusion, and it’s not the only recent movie that suggests that there’s something new in the air. Such films as Miranda July’s “The Future,” Terence Nance’s “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” Raúl Ruiz’s “Night Across the Street,” Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors,” Jafar Panahi’s “This Is Not a Film,” and … Agnès Varda’s “The Beaches of Agnès” point far ahead to a “new grammar” of narrative.
Richard Brody, The New Yorker

unrestrained, poetic and brutal
Andreas Günther,

Berlinale Breakouts: 10 Folks That Made A Major Impression At This Year’s Festival

turns conventional narrative wisdom upside down, much like the work of lyricism-prone contemporaries Shane Carruth, Leos Carax and Terrence Malick…By turns nightmarish, titillating and dreamlike, Thou Wast is one hell of an experiential enigma
Michael-Oliver Harding,

Josephine Decker

Having started her career in documentaries, helping to produce for A&E, ABC and Discovery, Josephine Decker often builds her work from improvisation and collaboration with real communities. Her recent feature BUTTER ON THE LATCH- called “a sexy, wild romp you have to see to believe” by Indiewire and “an utter exhilaration of cinematic imagination” by The New Yorker – is set at a real-life Balkan folk song and dance camp. The film, based on a Balkan folk song, explores the dark intimacy and neuroses of a female friendship, was included in Film Comment’s year-end list of Best Undistributed Films of 2013, and will have its international premiere at the Berlinale 2014. Recently named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film, Josephine has just completed her second narrative feature THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY. Starring Joe Swanberg, Robert Longstreet, Sophie Traub and Kristin Slaysman and inspired by a character from John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” Thou Wast Mild and Lovely balances horror, beauty, and intimacy as an erotic thriller set in the wilds of Kentucky. The film will World Premiere at the Berlinale 2014.

In 2008, Josephine directed the documentary feature BI THE WAY, exploring the rise of bisexuality in America and available on Logo and Netflix. The film screened at SXSW, Silverdocs, and about 100 festivals worldwide and received write‐ups in The Austin Chronicle, Curve Magazine, The New York Times, New York Magazine, and The Dallas Morning News, among others. Josephine’s short films and music videos have played at MoMA, SXSW, Cucalorus, Maryland, and Austin Film Festival, have won children’s programming awards, and can be seen on PBS and Kidzbop. Her short ME THE TERRIBLE, about a child pirate who tries to conquer New York City, received a glowing review in The New Yorker. Fortunate to be collaborating with artists she admires, Josephine Decker spent the past few years producing short videos for United Way, creative producing a doc for performance artist Sarah Small and acting in films by directors like Joe Swanberg, Onur Tukel and Spencer Parsons. Josephine also raises awareness about environmental issues through her performance art.


2014 Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, feature
2013 Butter on the Latch, feature
2011 Me The Terrible, short
2008 Bi The Way, feature documentary
2005 Naked Princeton, short