Combustible Celluloid
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With: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Thomasin McKenzie, Genevieve Lemon, Keith Carradine, Frances Conroy, Peter Carroll, Alison Bruce, Sean Keenan, Adam Beach, Maeson Stone Skuccedal, Alice Englert
Written by: Jane Campion, based on a novel by Thomas Savage
Directed by: Jane Campion
MPAA Rating: R for brief sexual content/full nudity
Running Time: 126
Date: 12/01/2021

The Power of the Dog (2021)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Paper Flowers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Oscar-winner Jane Campion (The Piano) returns with her first feature film since 2009's Bright Star — she'd spent time working on the series Top of the Lake — the Western The Power of the Dog, based on a 1967 novel by Thomas Savage. Campion has lost none of her potency, using the landscape, and even the earth itself, to tell this primal, feral story. The Cain-and-Abel brothers are alpha-male Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch), who bathes only occasionally and uses his vast, drawling vocabulary and steely eyes to cut others down, and clean-cut, soft-spoken George (Jesse Plemons), whose carefully-chosen words make him seem simple. They run a successful cattle empire, and while on a drive, Phil ridicules the thin, un-masculine young Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who waits on their table at an inn. George comforts the boy's distraught mother, Rose (Kirsten Dunst), and winds up marrying her. Back at the ranch, the power games ramp up, with subtle acts and wrenching moments, vanquishments tilting into defeats, with the twist of a rope.

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