Jane Campion‘s interesting but doleful, somewhat irksome The Power of the Dog (Netflix, 11.17) is a respectable smarthouse effort. An intelligent, solemn, very well acted (especially by Benedict Cumberbatch), at times fascinating period drama.
In a nutshell, it’s a somewhat rugged, rather grim 1920s western about repressed homosexuality. 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. Netflix will begin streaming it on 11.17.21.
I wish I had more time but I don’t. Two more films today — The Automat (a doc) and The French Dispatch.
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?
Cumberbatch is lean and sinewy; Plemons is a moon-faced marshmallow with small eyes, and conveying a certain patience and gentleness of spirit. But he and BC don’t even look like second cousins.
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.
That’s it, time’s up, gotta go.