The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog ★★★★

This is a sumptuous visual feast from Jane Campion which looked stunning on my new OLED TV. New Zealand fills in for 1920s Montana where Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessie Plemons are brothers at the very end of the cowboy era.

The film is a puzzle box of half-told tales and missing pieces. Initially it seems to be about the new romance between Jesse Plemon’s and Kirsten Dunst’s characters before switching the focus to Cumberbatch and his relationship with Dunst’s son, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Dunst is more depressed and downbeat here than she was in Melancholia and Plemens barely has to break a sweat his character is so laid back. The film really comes to life when Cumberbatch is on screen, he nails the repressed, backward-looking cowboy and you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen when he’s around.

This is one of those films that doesn’t give you all the pieces though and there are a number of ways you can interpret some of the actions taken by the characters. It’s a great film for discussing afterwards and we were still kicking it around an hour later, which can only be a good thing.

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