Based on Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel, The Power of the Dog, follows an arrogant and domineering rancher (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose mocking cruelty towards his brother’s new wife and stepson leads to the reveal some very hidden secrets.
Enthralling from start to finish, Jane Campion has created an unsettling and moving piece of cinematic art, defining her as a master of her craft.
The film’s slow burn dissects the complexities of repressed desire, familial drama, and the dangerous effects of toxic masculinity on both men and women in a very nuanced and powerful way with queer themes woven throughout.
The Power of the Dog is beautifully shot across the mountainous and rustic landscapes of New Zealand (posing as Montana) that add a quiet stillness that emphasizes the film’s haunting undertones and the ensemble’s masterful performances.
Benedict Cumberbatch gives one of his best performances of his career, completely transforming into the menacing, charismatic, yet misunderstood protagonist.
His vicious and dark behaviors will make your blood boil and his eerie whistling will give you goosebumps. However, as the film progresses and audiences watch his abrasive layers peel away to reveal the character’s true nature, this is where Cumberbatch truly wows. He has already begun to pick up accolades for this performance, and will certainly continue to do so throughout this awards season.
As previously mentioned, Cumberbatch is supported by a strong ensemble. Kirsten Dunst is a stand out as Rose, struggling with anxiety, depression, and alcoholism. There’s no major monologue moment, but the internal struggles she is able to convey on screen is very impressive. Not to mention, I also just love watching her work with her real life husband, Jesse Plemmons.
Needless to say, The Power of the Dog is one of their finest dramatic works to come from Netflix with an ending that sinks its teeth in and leaves a mark.
Final Thoughts: The Power of the Dog is a slow burn, however, it is one of the best films of 2021, boasting one of the best performances of the year from Cumberbatch.