The Power of the Dog (2021) Review

Phil Burbank is a wealthy rancher in Montana with his brother George and when they meet Rose and her son Peter everything would change when George marries her, meaning they all will live together.


Phil ridicules Peter to begin with but then decides that he will teach him how to be a cowboy and hope that taking him under his wing will actually help him in the long run. With doing this he is also forced to think about his own past and how things have really changed over the years. I guess some events you just cannot forget an must live without different people and repress feelings.

The repression and untouched nature of homosexuality in those times, the year in the film was 1925 and how much this impacts the character of the men involved. I wasn’t actually expecting the twist with that part of the story in all honesty, I just thought Phil was a nasty person but I guess we should always wait and see what impact different parts of someones past and story defines them.

The main thing that I actually found myself enjoying with the film was the landscape shots and the sheer beauty of the settings, some amazing scenes that were visually so perfect. Along with a score that just hit so hard at the right times, given all that though I actually really struggled to fully watch The Power of the Dog, it was my third attempt when I eventually got through it all. Which I actually hate having to say as I never feel like you should have to force yourself through a film, but this really was such a slog. I still maintain that if I had watched it at the cinema that would have been so much better as I would have been fully invested without any temptation to switch it off.

A massive slog and somewhat boring for long periods will mean that this is a film that has a very selective following and I personally believe the majority of people will not like it. I am probably more on the dislike side than like, because of the slow nature and pace of it all. I can however understand why people would like it and the fact it took me three attempts to fully watch it means I just didn’t feel the full love for it.

One thing that I can fully appreciate and admire is the level of performances from the truly talented cast, they all pull out the stops. Benedict Cumberbatch works so effortlessly as brooding Phil, and sets the tone for everyone he works alongside. Kodi Smit-McPhee really is as good or maybe that should be even better than you might have heard. This could certainly be his bigger breakout role in the more dramatic settings, does it make you feel old that he was Boy in 2009’s The Road? Kirsten Dunst is an actress I feel I have grew up just behind, given her early child acting roles and it makes me feel a little bit proud of the roles he takes on now. Jesse Plemons still goes from strength to strength.

Overall, a slow burner that will not be for everyone but does have some fantastic performances alongside some truly beautiful scenes and a haunting piece of music from the score.

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