Rent The Power of the Dog (2021)

3.3 of 5 from 246 ratings
2h 5min
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After a sensitive widow (Kirsten Dunst) and her enigmatic, fiercely loving son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) move in with her gentle new husband (Jesse Plemons), a tense battle of wills plays out between them and his brutish brother (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose frightening volatility conceals a secret torment, and whose capacity for tenderness, once reawakened, may offer him redemption or spell his destruction.
, , , , , , , , Ramontay McConnell, , , Max Mata, Josh Owen, , , , , , , Aislinn Furlong
Jane Campion, Iain Canning, Roger Frappier, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman
Jane Campion, Thomas Savage
Jonny Greenwood, Grant Major, Robert Mackenzie, Ari Wegner, Peter Sciberras, Amber Richards, Richard Flynn, Tara Webb
Action & Adventure, Drama, Romance
Award Winners, BAFTA Nominations Competition 2023, BAFTA Nominations Competition 2024, Lions on the Lido, Oscar Nominations Competition 2023, Top 10 Best Picture Follow-Ups, Top Films

2022 BAFTA Best Film

2022 BAFTA Best Direction

2022 Oscar Best Director

Release Date:
Not released
Run Time:
125 minutes
Release Date:
Run Time:
128 minutes
English Audio Description, English Dolby Atmos
English Hard of Hearing
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.28:1
BLU-RAY Regions:
  • Interview with Campion about the making of the film
  • Program featuring interviews with members of the cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage captured on location in New Zealand
  • Interview with Campion and composer Jonny Greenwood about the film's score
  • Conversation among Campion, director of photography Ari Wegner, actor Kirsten Dunst, and producer Tanya Seghatchian, moderated by filmmaker Tamara Jenkins
  • New interview with novelist Annie Proulx
  • Trailer

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Reviews (7) of The Power of the Dog

Excellent Drama - The Power of the Dog review by GI

Spoiler Alert

A mysterious psychodrama with a menacing atmosphere to it and arguably director Jane Campion's best film since The Piano (1993). It's a slow burning drama with a lethal ending that creeps up on you and takes you completely by surprise. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons plays two brothers, Phil and Charlie, who own and run a ranch in 1925 Montana. Whereas Charlie is a gentile, quiet man Phil is a brooding bully, a boorish man who continually insults his brother but is emotionally reliant on him. When Charlie marries widow Rose (Kirsten Dunst) Phil is driven to outrage and begins a campaign to harass and ridicule her. But he is also oddly transfixed by her sensitive teenage son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and starts to teach him how to ride and 'man up'. Peter seems drawn to the attention that Phil gives him whilst also worrying about his mother who, under Phil's constant torment, begins to fall into depression and alcoholism. Cumberbatch is excellent in this film, capturing the complexity of the character of Phil, from his festering resentments to his strange sensitivities and behaviours. Dunst too is superb as the wife who is slowly driven to despair under the subtle but maliciousness of Phil. This is a film that creeps up on you, it cleverly avoids revealing itself, indeed you'll think you have worked out what'll happen but chances are you'll be wrong. It's a story where the pieces fall into place right at the end but are present from the beginning. This is a gothic tale, a film made with real artistry. I highly recommend it.

3 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

Flea bitten - The Power of the Dog review by cr

Spoiler Alert

Weighing it at over 2 hours this "slow burn" drama left me cold. Yet again the lovies fawn over this oscar laden epic and yet there is little or no entertainment value here. Like diana which i saw recently this is a pyschological drama which is heavily signposted by characters doing illogical things and really irritating music.

We are told that the ranchers in question are wealthy and yet they share the same bedroom with 2 single beds. If phil is so outraged by his wife and brother why doesnt he move out? He is a grown man!

There are good performances but you need to be engaged and care about the characters and all of them are unappealing.

Not recommended.

3 out of 5 members found this review helpful.

The Power of the Dog - a review - The Power of the Dog review by WS

Spoiler Alert
Updated 08/12/2021

It’s 1925, and the West is no longer the "Wild West". The trappings of modernity - radio, recorded sound, and magazines - are starting to seep into everyday life even in remote rural Montana. Brothers Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George (Jesse Plemons) are prosperous ranchers who, whilst on a cattle drive, spend the night at an inn run by the widowed Rose Gordon and waited upon by her effete, toothpick-thin son, Peter. George asks Rose to marry him, and she moves into the mansion the brothers share, much to the disapproval of the supercilious and sarcastic Phil, who despises her as a gold-digger. The arrangement works out well for Peter, who is able to enrol in medical school with George's money, but Phil starts to wage psychological warfare on Rose, undermining her already fragile mental state. He mocks her piano-playing skills and stymies her attempts to improve by playing the banjo in the next room.

Eventually Phil takes a shine to Peter, who turns out to have far more iron in his soul than his fragile physique and soft demeanour would suggest. He teaches the boy to ride and starts plaiting him a rawhide rope, promising him that when it's finished he'll teach him how to use it, and they go on a trek together into the wilderness. Rose, meanwhile, steadily disintegrates, becoming an alcoholic.

This film requires the viewer's undivided attention, as plot points and the characters' motives aren't always clearly signposted. The sublime New Zealand landscape stands in well for the Rocky Mountains, and we get a masterful performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as a hyper-confident lone wolf. Whilst not altogether a likeable character, he has some good qualities - he's hard-working, focussed, sober and has no desire to ingratiate himself with his social superiors. What I found particularly fascinating about this film was its edgy and politically-incorrect take on masculinity. There are surely echoes of "Fight Club" here - remember where Tyler Durden says "We're a generation raised by women...I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer we need"? This sums up Phil's attitude and even that of the film - that women are a demoralising, strength-sapping influence on young men. "Don't let your mother turn you into a sissy!" Phil exhorts the young lad. It is not clear whether we, the viewer, are meant to sympathise with this intensely male-centred worldview, or see it as nihilistic and self-destructive.

I've no intrinsic objection to films that are atmosphere- rather than plot-led, or those that rely heavily on using established genre tropes in an apparently unironic way. But I found the limited character development to be less than satisfying. Phil, a man with no unmet needs and nothing to prove, is really more like a force of nature than a human being, so in his case, the fact that he doesn't evolve or progress isn't really a shortcoming - “change” for him would be a fracture. But it’s a little perplexing that George stays so passive in the face of Rose’s increasing dipsomania and depression. And we don’t really get any sense of how Peter’s ambitions or sense of self have evolved as a result of his experiences. So, it's hardly a "coming of age" story, either.

I also found the brothers' backstory to be sketchy and unconvincing. I can easily imagine Phil (who we learn is a university graduate) as a self-sufficiency nut, spurning a predictable middle-class life to become a rancher. Not so the mild-mannered, bowler-hatted George, who looks every inch an insurance actuary. We never see him doing any manual work and it's not clear what he contributes to the enterprise or why the men put up with each other.

An intellectually stimulating film but one that left me feeling emotionally disengaged, I’m undecided between "quite" and "very good". Seeing as it’s got a 95% critics’ approval rating, and I’m in a contrarian mood, I think I’ll round it down to 3 stars.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

The Power of the Dog review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso

Based on the novel by Thomas Savage, The Power of the Dog marks a strong return for director Jane Campion. She helms a revisionist Western that gets to the heart of addressing the emptiness of toxic masculinity as it lingers about ranges of Montana in the early 20th century. Whereas other films would present these concerning elements of men trying to divine themselves as mere punchlines, this picture has the calm and patience to explore this aspect deeper. I’d expect nothing less from Campion and she delivers another stellar film.

Starting in the 1920s, the film focuses on the ranching brothers Phil and George Burbank, played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons respectively. Both of them have different views on the world. While Phil is more guarded and cynical toward the world, George favors a better life of love and kindness. His love throws him into the graces of the widow Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst), owner of an inn and mother to the sensitive boy Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). The conflicting nature can be seen in how Phil and George respond to Peter. Notably, Phil is homophobic, bullying, and despises the presence of women. So, naturally, when George decides to marry Rose, it does not sit well with his brother.

With George spending most of the movie away on business, the majority of the picture is spent on the conflict between Phil, Rose, and Peter. Phil’s critical and mean view of the world makes this family respond differently. Rose resorts to hitting the bottle hard in order to get over how unwanted she feels by the vicious brother spitting upon her presence. This leads Phil to spend more time with Peter, teaching him his ways and the wrong ways to handle a dire desire for more. Phil criticizes his late mentor Bronco Henry but keeps his less manly thoughts hidden away from Peter. It makes the discovery of Phil masturbating while holding Henry’s scarf speak volumes about how much men keep bottled up inside. The two connect but only to such a degree that Peter feels the need to shed the old ways of men that further cripple them.

This is a slow but meaningful film on the nature of men. It showcases the self-defeating attitudes that grew out of the West, highlighting how they were damaging and needed to die. Phil does himself no favors by hiding his emotions and bullying others into passively accepting his grotesque behavior. The performances are pitch-perfect for this type of picture, especially from Plemons, who delivers a career-best performance in his relatively robust filmography. The depictions of the vast Midwest are also gorgeous to behold, spending plenty of time highlighting the wide-open and often lonely nature of this landscape.

The Power of the Dog could be written off as a revisionist Western, but it comes off more like a social Western. Through its moving and tragic progression of men’s responses to a changing world, a quiet sense of desperation comes out of the picture with its many characters who desire love but can’t find the right ways to express it. Many men merely remain silent, hoping that the next day will be one where their dreams can come true. All of it amounts to being one of the most profound Westerns of the 2020s.

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