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“The Power of the Dog”, sumptuous western by Jane Campion

The Power of the Dog ***

the Jane Campion

2:08 am New Zealand Movie on Netflix

Montana, 1925. Phil and George Burbank, two inseparable and dissimilar brothers, ride across plains and hills to gather their vast herd. After studying at Yale, Phil chose this harsh ranching life in the Wild West. A man yet cultivated, Phil (fabulous performance by Benedict Cumberbatch) behaves like a soldier, the epitome of unbridled virility. Cleared, mutic, George (Jesse Plemons, fearless and mysterious) follows his brother. Always dressed to the nines, in a suit and bow tie, he takes care of the accounts and leaves the herd in charge of the eldest. They have been sleeping together in the same room since their childhood.

But George suffers from loneliness. He decides to marry Rose (moving Kirsten Dunst), a beautiful widow, ex-cabaret pianist, in the oven and in the mill of his restaurant, surrounded by the gossip of his customers. When the new bride joins the family ranch, she enters a circle of hell. Phil will persevere in wanting to destroy it by instilling a climate of terror. A few hissed notes in the dark, a threatening presence, poisonous words and permanent hostility crush this woman who takes refuge in alcohol. Her husband, who witnesses her humiliations and her fears, does not flinch.

The extreme tension will turn around

Rose has a son who wants to be a surgeon. In turn, he arrives at the ranch. Effeminate, slender (astonishing interpretation of Kodi Smit-McPhee), everything about him excites Phil’s anger. He becomes her second-guessing man, under the panic-stricken gaze of his mother. The extreme tension will gradually turn around and reveal that the brutality of Phil, a melancholy macho, is only the acute translation of an intimate torment, his repressed homosexuality.

→ REPORT. At the Venice Film Festival, the return of the repressed past

For his return to feature films, twelve years later Bright Star and his foray into the world of series (Top of the Lake), with this dazzling and dark adaptation of the major, complex and bewitching novel by Thomas Savage (1915-2003), Jane Campion confirms her status as an immense filmmaker. But unfortunately she opted for Netflix. Unfortunately, because his sumptuous western, with sublime landscapes that shape the psychology of the characters, staged with a virtuosity of precision and ambiguity, playing on the codes of the genre, must be seen on the big screen. It is reserved for platform subscribers only. Despite this annoying restriction, Jane Campion won, last September, the much-deserved Golden Lion for best achievement at the Venice Film Festival.

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