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The Power of the Dog movie review



This is an advance review from the London Film Festival. The Power of the Dog will be released in limited cinemas on November 17, and will be available on Netflix on December 1.


Twelve years after the release of Bright Star, New Zealand director Jane Campion is back in the big screen with this film based on Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel The Power of the Dog, although a far cry from the romance that characterized the novel. In fact, this two-hour psychological drama depicts an even more brutal situation, where moods and egos collide to a pernicious effect.

Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his brother George (Jesse Plemons) owned a ranch in Montana in 1925, where they lived together, slept in their childhood bedroom together, and ran their business together for several years. Phil is considered the bossy brother, and his frequent references to Roman mythology reinforce the power difference between them. But despite his brother’s often ruthless bullying, and Cumberbatch’s meticulous and elegant performance, the elegant George does not smile but endures it with a wide heart. That is until one day George accompanies Rose Gordon (Kristen Dunst), a young widow and Peter’s mother (Cody named McPhee), and marries her, much to the chagrin of his brother.

Plemons and Dunst convey all the feelings they share as a real-life married couple to their characters in the film. We can feel the natural emotion and true harmony in their role as newlyweds. Of course, their honeymoon was cut short once Rose moved into the brothers’ farm house, and Peter attended boarding school to study medicine like his late father. But with her often lonely and feuding with a roommate who doesn’t want her to be around him, the psychological war between Phil and Rose begins to flare up, and Campion does it nicely.

Cumberbatch embodies a malevolent and at the same time fragile character. He is a scornful man who has given up urban sentiments for rural coarseness but derives happiness from defeating people he considers weak because he himself hides his own weakness. His personality is characterized by real arrogance and his deep hatred of women can be felt every time he targets Rose, whether covertly or publicly, to ridicule her. There is also a small plot centered around a grand piano that spirals into a painful realization that makes Peter’s return to the story all the more welcome.

“When my father died, I wanted nothing more than my mother’s happiness,” he said in a voiceover scene at the beginning of the film. “What kind of man would I be if I didn’t help my mother? If I didn’t save her?”

Smit McVeigh’s mediocre performance may have fallen short of impressing viewers with his character’s insistence on protecting Rose, but Dunst manages to win over viewers sympathy as a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But when the manipulation takes on a new form and a new, well-defined plot is added, the action reduces much of the tension that the first half of the film established. The slow pace that initially improved the tense events becomes a bit boring as we wait for some inevitable event to happen. It would have been possible to reduce the entire 20 minutes of the film’s running time, but it remains an amazing world to immerse ourselves in.

Director Jane Campion introduces us A psychological drama set against a charming background in a rural town.

Filmmaker Campion used her hometown to film the stunning Montana cattle town landscape, which has a looming backdrop filled with the various plains, mountains, and forests of this story of the American West. Cinematographer Ari Wegner captured the enchanting beauty of landscapes by making the most of the natural lighting of the so-called “magic hour” before sunset or after dawn to enhance the mythical feel of this time and these people. On the other hand, the interior scenes inside the farmhouse, designed by award-winning Grant Major for his work on The Lord of the Rings, are coolly framed by long angles that give the feeling of an unhealthy haze hanging over the air, a mist that tumbles to the sound of Johnny Greenwood’s soundtrack giving A feeling of doom. The Power of the Dog highlights the insecurity of masculinity, class and tradition, and through fashion designer Christy Kerron’s exquisite use of clothing, from elegant suits to shoes, makes each character stand out in a distinct way.

It’s great to see Campion return to the big screen, I just wish the second half of the movie managed to maintain the many suspense and excitement that characterized the first half.

– Translated by Dima Muhanna

In The Power of the Dog, director Jane Campion brings us a psychological drama set in a charming rural setting with impressive performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, but suffers from a clear plot path that softens the impact of the story.



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