The Power of the Dog
VIFF Centre Screening
On the Burbanks’ Montana cattle ranch, the boorish and vindictive Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) rules the roost over his mild mannered brother George (Jesse Plemons). So he’s furious when George (or "Fattie", as he calls him) gets himself a wife in the form of a widowed saloon keeper, Rose (Kirsten Dunst), and especially contemptuous of Rose’s effete teenage son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). The marriage is a done deal, but Phil is determined to make sure Rose regrets it every single day.
The Western film has always been indelibly masculine and often macho, but Jane Campion, adapting a 1967 novel by Thomas Savage, turns these precepts inside out while delivering a movie every bit as stark and iconic as such modern classics as There Will Be Blood, The Revenant, and Brokeback Mountain. Cast against type, Cumberbatch delivers a ferocious portrait of a self-loathing cowboy, a man in revolt against anything in nature that is not hard and brutal. His nemesis is unexpected, and perhaps without precedent in the genre. This outstandingly crafted movie (DP: Ari Wegner; music: Jonny Greenwood) is easily Campion’s strongest work since The Piano, a film very much to be reckoned with.
Silver Lion for Best Director, Venice 2021
Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Thomasin McKenzie, Genevieve Lemon, Keith Carradine, Frances Conroy
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