The Power of the Dog (2021)
2h 5m / R / Western, Drama
Charismatic, cruel cattle rancher Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) inspires fear and loyalty in all those who know him. But when his long-suffering brother George (Jesse Plemons) finds love with his new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and brings her and her son into their home, the siblings’ memories of their past and their relationships with each other need to be renegotiated.
The Power of the Dog is of a piece with much of director and festival darling Jane Campion’s body of work — films like The Piano, Bright Star and An Angel at My Table. It keeps tight focus on a handful of characters with intimate, incisive character portraits while taking in its period backdrop with languid, complex single shots and uncomfortable, organic set pieces. But unlike most of her previous movies, The Power of the Dog doesn’t deny the comfort of revelation. It settles accounts with a powerful conclusion, a startling hinge on which the whole film rotates, and which will recontextualize every performance and bring back audiences again and again.
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