TIFF: “The Power of the Dog” Review

-Allison McCulloch

126 mins. | USA/Canada/UK/Australia/New Zealand | 2021

“Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.”

Psalm 22:20

It’s the portrait of a brazen rancher named Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch). He’s so destroyed by the death of his hero Bronco Henry (1854-1904) that he takes it out on his brother, George (Jesse Plemons), and Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), the son of a widow (Kirsten Dunst). In comparison to Phil, George is gentle with everyone and starts to court Rose (real life couple Plemons and Dunst have two children). Since Peter is raised by his mother, he has a kind soul, but has some nervous ticks.

Taking place in Montana in 1925, Jonny Greenwood’s score captures everything a western should be. Ari Wegner’s amazing cinematography is sprawling, confident, and majestic. Jane Campion adapted this from Thomas Savage’s novel and directs to perfection as usual. The performances may be “good” with Benedict Cumberbatch’s drawl, Kirsten Dunst’s tears, and Thomasin McKenzie’s brief yet effective appearance. However, it is an enervating tale designed to see how much the characters can take. I am not fond of most westerns and this one doesn’t stand out in terms of making me love it.

Coming to theaters November 17, 2021 and Netflix on December 1, 2021

Rating: 6/10

Vegan alert:

-Dead and diseased cows
-Driving cattle
-Fur coats
-Hog skinned and gutted
-Phil calls a horse names
-Reference to rats drowning
-Leather saddle and gloves
-Phil castrates a cow
-Peter dissects animals before it is their time to die
-Silk blouse
-Cottontail rabbit shivering in fear
-Rabbit with broken and bleeding leg
-Animal hides
-Humans plan to waste the animal hides

Vegan points:
Rose pets a rabbit.

Follow Allison McCulloch on Twitter.

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