Cattle ranchers George and Phil Burbank (Jesse Plemons and Benedict Cumberbatch) have made a successful enterprise for themselves in Montana circa 1925. Phil rules the men they employ with an iron fist, while George is a bit more wholesome and understanding. George takes to widow Rose (Kristen Dunst) after meeting her at a restaurant stop and quickly marries her much to Phil’s chagrin. When she and her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) move into the Burbank family home however, Phil starts making things difficult for everyone.
Academy Award-winning Co-Writer/Director Jane Campion return to feature filmmaking after a decade long hiatus is a methodical and deliberately paced take on a Western. I would not call it revisionist as others have, yet it does very much feel like a deconstruction of a classic American genre. There are no real heroes and villains here – just troubled individuals trying their best to get on with their lives and not doing a great job of it. Campion’s pacing varies throughout the Film, with some scenes being particular zippy and others slowed to a crawl. She captures the intimacy and heartache of the old West (with gorgeous New Zealand vistas subbing in for Montana) but is more interested in the feelings of her characters than she is in anything else. I would never call THE POWER OF THE DOG boring, though will admit that it may be a great challenge for some viewers to get through.
The Production Design and costuming are sumptuous and Jonny Greenwood’s brooding score is absolutely brilliant, morphing from something soft and sweet to horrific and overbearing faster than you can snap your fingers. Plemons and Smit-McPhee are great in their roles, though they end up getting lost in the margins of some sections. Red hot Thomasin McKenzie (also at TIFF ’21 with Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho) pops-up as a house servant, yet really has no bearing on the story. And while Dunst gives it her all, transforming into a desperate and anxious alcoholic over the course of the Film’s running time, THE POWER OF THE DOG belongs entirely to Cumberbatch. Never have I hated a character so thoroughly and viscerally within seconds of seeing him pop up on screen. He is an absolute monster here, spewing acidic and vile remarks carelessly and genuinely toxifying everything around him just by being present. Cumberbatch’s performance feels lived-in, with even his most tender moments still coming off as repulsive. This is easily a career best performance for the Oscar-nominated thespian, whom Doctor Strange fans will not recognize whatsoever. Do not be surprised if he becomes the front-runner for Best Actor.
THE POWER OF THE DOG screens at TIFF’ 21:
Fri, Sep 10 Princess of Wales 5:00 PM
Fri, Sep 10 VISA Skyline Drive-In at Ontario Place 8:30 PM
Premiering at TIFF ’21, here is the new Teaser Trailer for Jane Campion‘s THE POWER OF THE DOG.
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 release THE POWER OF THE DOG in select theatres on November 17, 2021 and on Netflix December 1, 2021.
With the Premiere of Beautiful Creatures soon before us, promotion for the Film is reaching a feverish pitch. I challenge you not to see a TV Spot for the Movie these days! Alice Englert, who stars as Lena in the Film Adaptation of the Novel by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, has the distinction of appearing in the February 2013 issue of Vanity Fair with an Interview by Krista Smith and some gorgeous Photos of her in Lanvin, Chanel, Calvin Klein and Oscar De La Renta, by Williams & Hirakawa.
Englert, 18-year-old Daughter of acclaimed Filmmaker Jane Campion, reveals the Vanity Fair that she plans soon to move to London after having grown-up in Australia, saying “I always had a real crush on London. And I feel like we need to make that date and do it.”. Click here to read more.
Meanwhile, a stunning new five-minute Featurette for Beautiful Creatures has been released. Watch it over at Entertainment Weekly.
It’s not too late still for a chance to win a Double Pass to the Advance Screening of Beautiful Creatures via Mr. Will Wong. Click here to get in!
Word is, one of the talented Cast Members will be visiting Toronto soon for a bit of Press. Stay tuned.