…and then weigh in right here with insta-thoughts, considered reactions, Oscar chances, etc.
The Power of the Dog (Netflix, 12.1) is a chilly and perverse cattle–ranch drama that insists over and over that it’s a very bad thing for toxic males to suppress their homosexuality. (HE agrees.) Jane Campion is a top-tier filmmaker and there’s no disputing that this is a quality-level effort, but Dog‘s milieu is grim and stifling and melancholy, like the dark side of the moon.
Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent as the enraged and closeted Phil — a variation on Daniel Day Lewis‘s “Bill the Butcher” in Gangs of New York or “Daniel Plainview” in There Will Be Blood. The older-looking Kirsten Dunst, 39, delivers the second best performance. The fleshy, rotund, moon-faced Jesse Plemons plays Cumberbatch’s gentler, kinder brother. And don’t overlook Kodi-Smith McPhee as Dunst’s delicate teenaged son.
Campion’s film is an interesting, respectable smarthouse effort. Intelligent, solemn, very well acted (especially by Cumberbatch)…an at times fascinating period drama. More than a bit doleful, somewhat irksome at times but altogether first-rate.
No fist fights, no gunshots, etc. And clearly the work of a gifted filmmaker. But it wasn’t for me. I knew that within minutes.
Cumberbatch is really quite the self-torturing closet case, but he and Jesse Plemons are cast as brothers, and there’s really no way to believe this. They’re both red-haired (Plemons is more of a lighter carrot shade) but there the vague resemblance ends. The common genetic heritage simply isn’t there. Was one adopted?
As the film begins the Burbank brothers (Phil and George) share a bedroom in their mansion-sized home…curious.
Plemons is bulkier than Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master and slightly less ample than John Candy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. He’s playing a wealthy cattle broker, but there’s no believing that plump Plemons could be part of any aspect of the cattle business. The trust factor goes right out the window.
The older-looking Kirsten Dunst, 39, delivers the second best performance, right after Cumberbatch.
To me watching this felt like work; it made me feel vaguely trapped. I walked out scratching my head and muttering “what?” I wrote three friends who’ve seen it to try and clarify a third-act plot element.