Updated: Dec 3, 2021
The Power of The Dog is a quiet and menacing story about two wealthy ranchers in Montana, one quiet and clean and the other (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), Sharp tongued and cruel. In 1925 Phil Burbank is a cowboy trapped in the past. He can be cruel in silence and with his sharp tongue. He has encapsulated himself in a time where he became a rancher with his brother and was tough by his “mentor” named Bronco Henry. Phil talks about Bronco Henry as is he is a hero, larger than life and takes him very seriously. Durning the movie you wonder exactly what it was that Bronco Henry did to make Phil feel this way. Phil is probably the most “cowboy” cowboy I have seen on the big screen in a long time. He castrates a bull calf with his bare hands; he swims naked in the river and makes his own rope.
The quiet brother George (Jesse Plemons) meets and marries a local widowed restaurant owner (Kirsten Dunst) with an awkward teenage son and that’s when things start going south. It is a haunting and memorizing story with a menacing twist. This will be big on the nomination lists for acting, editing and cinematography. It took me a few days to digest this film because it was so hard to watch at moments as an avid Cumberbatch fan. Keep your eyes on young Codi Smit-McFee who plays the son. He was quietly incredible.
This "Montana" Ranch and the surrounding area takes on a life of its own. Director Jane Campion does a great job making us want to go to this magnificent and sometimes desolate place. No matter how dark the story gets the warmth and beauty of the rolling mountains, open skies and hidden creeks calls to us as we watch as the world around it falls apart. The land has as many secrets as the characters and you will be lured in.
I don't want to ruin the Montana storyline for you, but this film was shot in the fantastical land of New Zealand and she shines. There are a few moments that I saw hobbits funning over the hills from Lord of The Rings but I am an avid watcher of those films and it was not ruined for me. There is a moment when Rose is at her worst and running across the ranch, through the trees and bush that is so sad and beautiful at the same time. You see a Rose "dying" in the middle of paradise. The Power of the Dog will make you angry, confused, melancholy and strangely satisfied. It may not happen till a few hours after you watched it but jump in and let it wash over you.
In theatres November 17th, 2021
Streaming on Netflix December 1st, 2021