The Power of the Dog is a Western psychological drama written and directed by Jane Campion. It is based on Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name. The Power of the Dog is a well-written and directed movie that covers a wide range of emotions like love, grief, resentment, jealousy, and human sexuality to name a few. I had no idea what to expect from this movie, I soon found out it would soon become one of the greats.
The Power of the Dog opens in 1925 Montana as two wealthy ranch-owning brothers Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Burbank (Jesse Plemons) meet widow and inn owner Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst) during a cattle drive. George who is considered kind-hearted is quickly taken with Rose. Phil, who is harsh, volatile, and considered a bully is much influenced by his late mentor Bronco Henry, mocks Rose’s son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) for his lisp and effeminate manner.
George and Rose suddenly get married, and she moves into the Burbank ranch house and is able to use George’s money to send her son, Peter to college where he studies medicine and surgery. Phil takes an immediate dislike to Rose, believing that she married George for his money. Phil’s rough ways and taunting manner unnerve her. One evening, George organizes a dinner party with his parents and the governor; George intends to introduce his guests to his new wife who will play their new piano, which Rose says she can barely play. During the party, Rose, rattled by Phil’s earlier belittling of her skills, is unable to play more than a few notes of the “Radetzky March” and is further humiliated when Phil mocks her about her practicing. She begins drinking alcohol, something she was previously opposed to doing.
Rose is bordering on becoming an alcoholic and her son Peter who has also moved in for the summer is also being bullied by Phil as he observes his mother’s digression because of Phil. Bronco Henry seems to be the theme of The Power of the Dog. The two opposing brothers make for a delicious story bordering on a tale of awareness and horror. There are many, many twists and turns in this story you really will not see coming. By stories end, you will be relieved as your questions will be answered. I thought The Power of the Dog was well acted and well written. Benedict Cumberbatch is a brilliant actor, who I think can be anything from Dr. Strange to a mathematical genius decoding the German Enigma code. Rotten Tomatoes critics rated Power of the Dogs 94% while the audience rated it a whopping 83%. If you’re ready to saddle up for a slow ride, The Power of the Dog‘s great acting and interesting ideas make the journey worthwhile. Power of the Dog was also highly regarded as one of the best films of 2021 by multiple top-ten lists. It also received seven nominations at the 79th Golden Globe Awards, winning Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture for Smit-McPhee and Best Director for Campion, and 10 nominations at the 27th Critics’ Choice Awards, including Best Picture. I highly recommend Power of the Dogs, which is streaming on Netflix — Check It Out!