Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Power of the Dog - Movie Review

The Movie: The Power of the Dog

The Director: Jane Campion

The Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee

The Story: Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.

The Review:
Over the past twenty some odd years, Jane Campion has been a highly regarded director and writer having won an Academy Award in 1993 for The Piano along with many other awards and now here she is with a movie many consider to be as worthy as anything she has done. The movie looks beautiful with sweeping backdrops and rolling hills of Montana country sides being highlighted in true cinematic fashion.

For me, that was the primary reason for watching this movie, especially on the big screen (it had a limited theatrical run before it's Netflix release), as Campion and director of photography Ari Wegner take full advantage of all the wide open spaces. The style and pace of the movie hearkens back to the classic westerns of yesteryear and might make you want to do a John Ford marathon because there is so much inspiration here from those films.

While the movie looks amazing, I wasn't as impressed with the story. It was decent enough but I had a hard time staying engaged which this being a Netflix movie concerns me because watching in a theater is generally a more engaging experience than watching at home. I'll just be thankful I had the opportunity to see it in a theater and leave it at that.

I suppose that leaves this film to being more of an acting showcase as Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Kirsten Dunst all turn in strong performances although I had trouble buying Benedict Cumberbatch as a surly wild west cowboy. Overall this is a solid movie and I can see a lot of people liking it for various reasons, it just didn't grab me as much as I was hoping it would.

The Verdict:
The Power of the Dog is a beautifully filmed, classically created western that is saved from being unfortunately forgettable by a very strong cast. Ideally this movie should have had a full theatrical run as most of what makes the movie worth watching is lost on the small screen.

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