The Power of the Dog on Netflix: Jane Campion signs her biggest movie? – News …

Jane Campion returns to feature films 12 years after Bright Star. The New Zealander signs a western that isn’t really one, with Benedict Cumberbatch in probably his best role.

What is it about ?

Originally from Montana, brothers Phil and George Burbank are diametrically opposed. As well as Phil is refined, brilliant and cruel – so much is George phlegmatic, meticulous and benevolent. The two of them run the biggest ranch in the Montana Valley. A region, far from the galloping modernity of the twentieth century, where men still assume their virility and where we revere the figure of Bronco Henry, the greatest cowboy Phil has ever met. When George secretly marries Rose, a young widow, Phil, drunk with anger, decides to destroy her. He then seeks to reach Rose by using his son Peter, a sensitive and effeminate boy, as a pawn in his sadistic and merciless strategy …

The Power of the Dog, a film written and directed by Jane Campion with Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jesse Plemons… Based on the eponymous book by Thomas Savage

Who is it with?

For The Power of the Dog, her eighth feature film, Jane Campion surrounded herself with actors at the top of their game. Benedict Cumberbatch, in the lead, plays the main character. Phil Burbank is a cowboy, who blends body and soul into his vocation, at the head of the family ranch with his brother George (Jesse Plemons) with whom he forms a kind of funny little couple.

As much as Phil is an assertive, harsh, even cruel man, George is a gentle and discreet man. The latter is not, moreover, considered as their boss by the other cowboys who only have eyes for Phil, their natural leader.

The power of the dog on netflix: jane campion signs her biggest movie? - news...
KIRSTY GRIFFIN / NETFLIX

This fragile balance between the two brothers changes when George decides to marry Rose (Kirsten Dunst), a young widow at the head of a restaurant and mother of Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Rose and Peter represent everything Phil despises. Rose, the happy widow who steals her brother. And Peter, this fragile-looking young man who is at odds with Phil’s masculine ideal.

Well worth a look ?

We didn’t expect to see Jane Campion come back with a western. This genre, which has often served as a form of apology for virility, she diverts as only she can. It starts with the sensuality of his image and his way of taming the raw beauty of the Montana landscapes. She is also joining forces for the first time with director of photography Ari Wegner, what a happy meeting!

But Jane Campion operates her diversion above all by playing on genres – filmic and sexual – and by portraying a complex and secret man, whole and uncompromising, cruel and forbidden to love.

The power of the dog on netflix: jane campion signs her biggest movie? - news...
KIRSTY GRIFFIN / NETFLIX

The whole film unfolds unspoken. Everything can be guessed over a construction that takes care never to reveal its intentions. Phil is a man who reigns through terror and knows nothing but brutality. But this is not expressed by physical power. Rather by perfidy. However, the viewer will not escape the transformation of the physique of Benedict Cumberbatch, who sports a lean musculature that he had never seen before.

Because behind this taciturn and willingly bellicose character, hides another who does not want to, cannot come out of the shadows. Because with The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion signs a film of incredible sensuality. Phil’s complexity is also due to his almost primary relationship with nature. He finds his haven of peace in a secluded corner of a river where he takes turns swimming and rolling in the mud.

In these moments of abandonment, Jane Campion’s camera remains at a distance. But eroticism sets the whole frame ablaze while modesty remains in order.

The power of the dog on netflix: jane campion signs her biggest movie? - news...
KIRSTY GRIFFIN / NETFLIX

In an equally natural movement, covered in mud and sweat that form his shell, he decides to make Rose his victim. He skillfully distils its venom to the point of pushing her to drink. And when he directs his attention to Peter – we discover at the beginning of the film making paper flowers to dress the tables of his mother’s restaurant – we tremble.

All in legs, with his frail figure, Peter seems however indifferent to the crude Phil. It is this silent confrontation that will keep us going throughout the film. Until the very last scene this psychological thriller takes an unexpected turn and meaning. This is where emotion and amazement triumph.

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