Friday, February 4, 2022

The Power of the Dog

Sometimes a movie just doesn't work for you. I didn't hate director Jane Champion's The Power of the Dog but I'll admit to being underwhelmed by the critical darling so many are quick to praise. Yes, it has a strong performance by Benedict Cumberbatch and some lovely scenery but it's also saddled with a predictable plot and a host of single-note characters whom I never became invested in.  In fact, on my first viewing, the film literally put me to sleep.

Our leads are Benedict Cumberbatch as rough-and-tumble rancher Phil Burbank (the mean one), Jesse Plemons as his more genteel brother George (the bland one), Kirsten Dunst as inn owner and George's new wife Rose (the female one), and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Rose's nearly full-grown son Peter (the creepy one). The plot mainly involves Phil acting horribly to everyone and the eventual fallout of that behavior. The payoff of which, for me, wasn't worth the time spent to get there.

The film has earned praise for its performances, which are all worthy of note, but I've seen Cumberbatch and Dunst perform as well in far more interesting films. Champion does capture the feel of the time and place where the events unfold, but I grew bored of Cumberbatch being a relentless prick to hide his own insecurities and to torture his brother's new wife for his own amusement rather quickly. While his cruelty is constant, and his resentment is palpable in every frame, its not all that noteworthy. He's just a horrible person, but not one Champion makes me care about in one way or the other. I'm not concerned with him getting his just due nor rooting for his boorish behavior to continue. Like the endless prairie, it's just something to take note of and then move on.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: The Power of the Dog
  • IMDb: link

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