The Power of the Dog


D: Jane Campion

Netflix / BBC / New Zealand Film Commission / Bad Girl Creek / Max / See-Saw / Cross City (Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Roger Frappier, Jane Campion & Tanya Seghatchian)

NZ/UK/US/Australia 🇳🇿🇬🇧🇺🇸🇦🇺2021

126 mins


W: Jane Campion [based on the novel by Thomas Savage]

DP: Ari Wegner

Ed: Peter Sciberras

Mus: Jonny Greenwood

PD: Grant Major

Cos: Kirsty Cameron

Benedict Cumberbatch (Phil Burbank), Jesse Plemons (George Burbank), Kirsten Dunst (Rose Gordon), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Peter Gordon), Thomasin McKenzie (Lola), Genevieve Lemon (Mrs. Lewis)

The Power of the Dog is an arthouse western, written for the screen and directed by Jane Campion, who came to worldwide prominence following her 1993 film, The Piano, which should tell you a lot about what sort of film this is.

It’s a slow-burning drama centred around two rancher brothers, one volatile and obnoxious (Phil), and the other gentler and more amiable (George).  Their relationship becomes fractured when George marries a widowed inn owner, who Phil considers a parasite and begins to psychologically torment her and her effeminate son.

The performances of the four principal characters are all excellent, and while it is very slowly paced, the atmospheric direction from Jane Campion does a great job in creating tension.

It was marketed as being about toxic masculinity, but it’s far more about repressed behaviour and the animalistic nature of emotion.

It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea for certain, but I thought it was incredibly well made, even if it was quite drawn out.


Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog