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Netflix 'The Power of the Dog' Review: Benedict Cumberbatch film a devastating masterpiece

The movie tells the story of a ranch owner named Phil Burbank and him trying to navigate life through some drastic changes
Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in 'The Power of the Dog' (Netflix)
Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in 'The Power of the Dog' (Netflix)

Every once in a while a movie releases where it’s not easy to pinpoint what kind of film it actually and you keep on thinking about the genres that you can put the movie in. However, it doesn’t mean that the movie is bad, but it’s difficult to put it in a bracket and Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ is exactly that.

Based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Savage, the movie revolves around a rude ranch owner named Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) who doesn’t care about relationships or love. His brother, George (Jesse Plemons), is exactly the opposite. While going on a trip with Phil and other cowboys, George meets Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst) and her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). George starts to like Rose and comes to meet her even when they have left the place. The primary focus of the film is on four characters – Phil, George, Rose, and Peter – who are trying to adjust to new people around them. However, it’s really hard to understand what type of movie is being played right in front of your eyes.


'The Power of the Dog': 5 things to know about Benedict Cumberbatch's western drama 

'The Power of the Dog': 5 things to know about Benedict Cumberbatch film

But, there wasn’t even a single moment where I felt that I am being bored. ‘The Power of the Dog’ is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year and sees Jane Campion at her very best.

So, the movie starts with the introduction to our main character Phil Burbank (Cumberbatch) running the ranch with his brother George (Plemons). George has returned to the ranch after 25 years and now they are planning to make it bigger. Phil and George along with several cowboys make a trip to a place and take a pit-stop to have some rest. While eating food, Phil mocks Rose’s (Kirsten Dunst) son Peter (McPhee) for being a sissy and burns the paper flowers he made for the table. George is appalled by all this and visits Rose again. A few days later, they get married and Rose is coming to their ranch.

A still from 'The Power of the Dog (Netflix)

Phil is not happy and tries tormenting her with his frustrating nature. He doesn’t want her and even belittles her in front of the governor and his wife. Rose is getting in bad share day after day due to the way she is being treated while George is supporting her every day. Everything changes when Peter comes to stay with them during his school vacations. Initially, Phil tries tormenting him as well, but later starts a unique friendship with him. However, Rose doesn’t want Peter to be with Phil because she knows that she hates him. But not a lot of people know that Phil is trying to do hide something about him as well.

Some people might feel that it is a slow-paced film, and it really is. But it is a deliberately slow-paced movie. Campion gives ample time to fans to relate with the characters and the situations they are in. Viewers just need to go with the flow and be patient because the movie will surely be a rewarding experience for everyone. The filmmaker has done a phenomenal job in creating such engaging characters that have so much to offer.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in 'The Power of the Dog' (Netflix)

The cast of the movie is exceptional. I mean, what did even people expect? When you have actors like Cumberbatch, Dunst, and Plemons leading a movie, then there are no points in guessing that you are going to see some extraordinary performances. Cumberbatch is playing a role that is exactly the opposite of him. His character Phil is annoying and sometimes, diabolical. Beneath that insanely manipulative guy, there is a guy who is soft and loves to be around nature. The actor has done a phenomenal job in showing the best of both worlds and giving a performance that’s nothing short of a miracle. He is undoubtedly one of the strongest contenders to be nominated for Best Actor during award ceremonies.

On the other hand, Dunst has once again shown why she is one of the finest actors of this generation. Her role of Rose will make you realize how difficult it can be for a widow to adjust to a family where people are not that likable. You can feel the pain in her eyes and expressions. The actress's portrayal is flawless and she has given another award-worthy performance here.

Kirstein Dunst as Rose Gordon in 'The Power of the Dog' (Netflix)

Plemons delivers another strong performance here and injects life into a character that could have been in the movie just for the sake of it. The best thing about the Plemons’ character is when he is with Dunst, his real-life partners, and they are being romantic, you can feel how effortless they are in those scenes and convey how much they love each other in real life as well.

However, the breakout star of the movie is none other than Kodi-Smit McPhee. His character is exactly the opposite of Phil. Peter doesn’t show what he really is and is a guy brimming with a lot of wisdom within. All the performers have done exceptionally well and the Oscar buzz surrounding them is the least they deserve.

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Peter in 'The Power of the Dog' (Netflix)

A lot of things have been inspected in this film. Themes like toxic masculinity, repression are primarily shown in order to tell the difference between good and evil. So, we go back to the question that we asked in the first place: what kind of movie is ‘The Power of the Dog’? You can call it a western or a romantic drama, but you would never be able to put the movie into one genre.

All in all, ‘The Power of the Dog’ is a devastating masterpiece that should be seen at any cost. The ending will leave you speechless and as soon as the movie ends you’ll get to know what Campion was trying to tell is throughout the film. Campion donned the director’s hat after a long gap of 12 years. Her last movie as a director came in 2009 and after seeing ‘The Power of the Dog’, we hope that she doesn’t take another 12 years to make another masterpiece like this.

‘The Power of the Dog’ will be streaming on Netflix on Wednesday, December 1.