Review: The Power Of The Dog


A film bereft of intrigue and riddled with half-baked themes of toxic masculinity and repressed homosexuality, The Power of the Dog cons you into the lengthy watch with beautiful landscapes and superb acting, but delivers nothing worthwhile by the end.

Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a jerk, rude to the point of exhaustion and never more so than in an interaction with Rose (Kirsten Dunst), who his brother George (Jesse Plemons) soon marries, and her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Soon he takes the boy under his wing. The story is simple, but almost to a fault; writer/director Jane Campion spends enormous amounts of unnecessary time stretching out scenes and failing to build a rhythm for the film. Cumberbatch absolutely delivers a solid performance here, supported by Dunst’s best outing in years and yet another consistent showing by Plemons. Smit-McPhee is the outsider, unfortunately, never quite tapping into the expected emotions of the character and getting lost in the already minimal exposition. 

Campion’s direction is fine, elevated by the cast assembled and aided greatly by the locations in which she shot The Power of the Dog. The source material simply isn’t brought alive to justify a film that attempts to tackle tough issues, but falls way short of actually presenting them in any interesting manner. The entire project left me with a feeling of being underwhelmed, always expecting more and never being satisfied. It is a film that leads you to believe there is more under the surface than there is, but has no interest in taking you there. A frustrating exercise in awards bait.

The Power of the Dog is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 2/5

Photo from Netflix

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