New Zealander Jane Campion writes, produces and directs this period human drama that brings back memories of how Academy Award winning movies used to be. Set in 1925, The Power of the Dog may be a slow burn but under the skillful hands of Jane Campion, you are increasingly drawn into the story and characters, intrigued and curious to find out where the story would lead us to and how it would end.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Phil, the one half of the brothers who own a range in Montana. Phil is a rough neck loud, typical cowboy unlike his quieter sibling George (played by Jesse Plemons). When George chose to marry widower Rose (played by Kirsten Dunst) Phil takes on an immediate dislike for her and her timid and secluded son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). How this four characters story play out over the two hours may seem boring and slow to some viewers but for me, this is story telling at its best. Jane Campion paints the story like an artist painting on a canvas. She has the advantage of having an excellent cast and script, plus the spectacular natural landscape in New Zealand to double as Montana. She also does not take the audience for fools and cleverly leads the viewers on chapter by chapter. All the while we expect some impending doom or dramatic outcome, something that has become conditioned in all of us when watching a movie. The outcome was unexpected and a bit subdued. However, the whole story and plot begins to make sense and carry a whole different meaning once you realise what had happened.
I have to admit that I was confused by the ending scene and could not get the subtle message shown. I confess that I had to google for an explanation as it was driving me a bit crazy not fully getting the grasp of it. Only after I found this out did the whole movie come together. This makes it almost mandatory to have a second viewing as much of what went on ahead were clues that leads us to the ending.
The Power of the Dog is a movie that needs to be watched carefully with an open mind and patience. In return you will be rewarded with a rich experience as you appreciate the movie at multiple levels.