Director: Jane Campion
Writer: Jane Campion (Screenplay) Thomas Savage (Novel)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Genevieve Lemon, Kenneth Radley
Plot: Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.
Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Story: The Power of the Dog starts when George Burbank (Plemons) meets Rose Gordon (Dunst) leading to their marriage and moving into the ranch with George’s brother Phil (Cumberbatch), a strict man who has created fear around him from everyone he knows.
Phil takes pleasure in making Rose’s son Peter (Smit-McPhee) fear him, before slowly taking him under his wing, showing a side of him not many people have seen before.
Thoughts on The Power of the Dog
Characters & Performances – Phil Burbank is the charismatic rancher who has created a fear about him that everyone respects, knowing he is the best in the area, however he will keep to himself, not liking letting people into his life, until his new step-nephew gives him motivation to show who he really is. Benedict Cumberbatch does create a presence on screen with this role, being the character we are drawn to most. Rose is the barmaid that falls for Phil’s brother George, she takes her son back to the ranch, but her time there will see her struggle with her own addictions in the world. George is the brother that marries Rose, he is more forward thinking in the land, looking at business over anything else. Peter is the son of Rose, he has a creative mind, which is easily mocked by Phil, before the two have a new bond about finding their place in world.
Story – The story here follows a fear demanding rancher that reluctantly decides to take his new step-nephew under his wing, showing a different side to himself that no one else has seen before. This is a story that moves at an incredibly slow pace, going nowhere fast, leaving us wondering is anything is going to happen, as most of the film is just following the ranchers doing cowboy things and an alcoholic spiralling out of control. This isn’t a very engaging story, falling flat by the end of the film.
Themes – The Power of the Dog is a western that does have one of the most beautiful backdrops of any movie you will see this year, making this the only real highlight of the film, as everything else involved in the western genre, has been done before.
Final Thoughts – The Power of the Dog is a movie that doesn’t seem to get going, moving at such a slow pace.