Hard to believe it’s been twelve years since Jane Campion’s last feature, that being the terrific (and criminally underrated) Bright Star. Not that she’s been lazy, having completed two seasons of Top of the Lake, itself also very good. But now she’s back in a big way with The Power of the Dog, which is set to make a splash at Venice next month before becoming a major awards season contender for Netflix.
The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jesse Plemons, Thomasin McKenzie, Keith Carradine, Frances Conroy, Peter Carrol and Adam Beach. Cumberbatch plays a cruel ranch owner who unleashes his fury upon his timid brother’s new wife and son.
Here’s the official synopsis: Severe, pale-eyed, handsome, Phil Burbank is brutally beguiling. All of Phil’s romance, power, and fragility is trapped in the past and in the land: He can castrate a bull calf with two swift slashes of his knife; he swims naked in the river, smearing his body with mud. He is a cowboy as raw as his hides.
The year is 1925. The Burbank brothers are wealthy ranchers in Montana. At the Red Mill restaurant on their way to market, the brothers meet Rose, the widowed proprietress, and her impressionable son Peter. Phil behaves so cruelly he drives them both to tears, reveling in their hurt and rousing his fellow cowhands to laughter – all except his brother George, who comforts Rose then returns to marry her.
As Phil swings between fury and cunning, his taunting of Rose takes an eerie form – he hovers at the edges of her vision, whistling a tune she can no longer play. His mockery of her son is more overt, amplified by the cheering of Phil’s cowhand disciples. Then Phil appears to take the boy under his wing. Is this latest gesture a softening that leaves Phil exposed, or a plot-twisting further into menace?
Netflix has big plans for The Power of the Dog, setting it for a theatrical release on November 17th before streaming on December 1st.
Official poster for 'THE POWER OF THE DOG' starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst & Jesse Plemons. #ThePowerOfTheDog. In Select Theatres on November 17, On Netflix December 1. pic.twitter.com/fnOMTcZ5na
— The Playlist (@YrOnlyHope) August 26, 2021