126 minutes – Drama, Westerns,
Festival release date: September 2, 2021 (Venice International Film Festival)
Release date: November 11, 2021 (Australia and New Zealand)
Netflix release date: December 1, 2021
Production companies: Bad Girl Creek, Max Films, See-Saw Films, Cross City Films, BBC Film, New Zealand Film Commission
Based on Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name, The Power of the Dog is a Western psychological drama adapted for the screen and directed by Jane Campion. Set in 1925 Montana the film centres on wealthy ranch-owning brothers Phil and George Burbank. Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) runs the ranch like a king, a volatile master of all he surveys. He isn’t liked as much as he is feared. Brother George (Jesse Plemons) is a soft spoken, quietly deliberate man who is his brother’s direct opposite. During a cattle drive they meet a widow and inn owner, Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst). George has eyes for Rose, as they used to say, but Phil dislikes her. He also dislikes her teenage son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), whom he derides as weak and effeminate, but later softens, often with ominous overtones as, for example, he teaches Peter how to ride. The book and film explore the themes of love, grief, resentment, jealousy, and sexuality. Shot mostly in the rural Otago Province of New Zealand, the film is an international co-production between New Zealand, Greece, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia. It has been widely praised and is the winner of multiple Best Picture and Best Director Awards.
Jane Campion was honoured with a Best Director Oscar® in 2022 for her work on Power of the Dog.
Trivia: Costars Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst are a married couple.