The Power of the Dog follows the story of two brothers: Phil and George Burbank. After stopping somewhere for a meal, George meets Rose Gordon, a widow taking care of her son. After Phil insults Peter, Rose’s son, George is there to console her. Soon, the two decide to get married, and Rose moves in with the brothers while Peter attends school. After moving in, Rose does her best to mend her relationship with Phil.
The Power of the Dog centralizes around Phil and George Burbank. This pair of brothers are polar opposites of each other; Phil is a ranch hand who spends most of his time on horseback, while George is the calmer book smart person. George is married to Rose Gordon, a widow. Rose has a son named Peter, who changed after his father’s death.
The Power of the Dog is a very character driven movie. Just putting this out here first, if you aren’t a fan of these kinds of movies, then this won’t be for you. Besides the characters, the actual plot is quite slow and painful to get through.
To elaborate, as part of my negatives, this movie is focused solely on characters. The plot progression is very slow. To be honest, I didn’t like the first three quarters of the movie much. It takes a while for all the characters to be built up, so the slow plot didn’t help at all. The slow plot is probably the only aspect of this movie that would turn viewers away from it.
Now on the positives, I found this movie unique in its approach. It isn’t often that I watch a movie that is more character driven, and this one was a nice change. Now, I did mention that the beginning three quarters are hard to watch, but the last quarter makes it worth it. It takes a while to build everything up, but I enjoyed how everything plays out in the end. Throughout the movie, there is plenty of foreshadowing and small bits of character development. These small details that can easily be overlooked is what captivated my attention. And the ending of this movie was a great way to pay off all the foreshadowing and the character development.Overall, The Power of the Dog was a unique experience. For viewers who aren’t into movies that are heavily focused on characters, this one will be hard to watch with its slower plot. But if you make it to the end, the ending is quite entertaining.
Favourite Moment (Spoilers):
My favourite moment in The Power of the Dog is when it’s revealed that Phil died because of anthrax. I loved seeing all the small bits of foreshadowing throughout the movie, and it was great to watch how everything played out.
The Power of the Dog is Benedict Cumberbatch’s newest movie on Netflix. This is a slow drama that contains some pretty solid characters. Phil, played by Cumberbatch, is the highlight of this movie. The acting is phenomenal, and the character is pretty well written. Phil is such a deep and slightly confusing character that it keeps you on your toes. The rest of the main cast is pretty solid, even if it’s tiny. The writers made an interesting decision to make this main cast super small, and include pretty much no secondary characters. We jump straight to tertiary characters, which puts a lot of weight on our main characters. I think it was done really well, but a few secondary characters would have forced a much faster moving plot. There is a pretty massive character hole in Phil’s character about midway through, but it spoils everything so I won’t touch that.
The plot revolves around Phil and Peter, but it struggles to move with any kind of pace. The first hour is borderline awful, with just a lack of anything going on. The characters aren’t quite developed yet, so it becomes a confusing, boring start to the film. Once you survive that hour, you get into a pretty good movie. The details that took so long to develop all slam together, and the characters we get to know start to mean something. All of the pieces come together, both character and plot wise, and it ends wonderfully. I really enjoyed the foreshadowing and the way things came together, but if you tend to turn movies off early, this isn’t going to make the cut.
I really wish we got more characters or more plot, because the first hour was awful. The set up was so long and so boring that it made this a really tough watch. I totally think the payoff is worth the price of boredom, but you might not. If you need a fast start, or even a medium start, this is going to suck. Grab some popcorn, some patience, and some else to keep you from turning it off, and go give this one a try.
Favourite Moment (Spoilers):
My favourite moment has to be when Phil starts braiding his rope. This is a very important scene, and it totally changes the tone of the movie. Phil and Peter start to get along, and the movie gets way better after this.
This is a film that I had no idea what it was about before I started it and I can honestly say it bored me. Now it does have some highlights and I’ll give it credit that the best thing in this film is the acting. Benedict Cumberbatch is amazing as always, definitely giving a nuanced and deep performance. Aside from him Jesse Plemons, Kirsten Dunst, and Kodi Smit-McPhee and I would say that out of those three I think Kirsten Dunst had the best performance. The story was also an element that was interesting with some deep themes and a story that could honestly be difficult to comprehend which can be a good and bad thing. The film didn’t explain everything and left lots up to interpretation which I liked because it added a complexity that made me engaged. On the negative side, this film is quite slow and can be dull at times. It’s not that there’s no action, I’ve seen many films without action but it’s more that the story seems to progress at such a slow pace that it doesn’t feel like anything is happening. I also felt like the film couldn’t decide which perspective to follow. At first, this was Phil’s story, then George’s, Rose’s and it ended on Peter’s. I have seen this work in books but in this film, it could be confusing not knowing who was truly the protagonist. I do like the ending though and how they left it ambiguous enough that it’s left up to interpretation.
All in all, I didn’t really like this film a lot. I thought that the acting was fantastic, the story was okay but the way it was told was quite boring and hard to get through. I don’t know if I would recommend this but if you want to check it out head on over to Netflix and see for yourself.
Favourite Moment (Spoilers):
My favourite moment was when Peter and Rose had a conversation about her fears and why she didn’t like Peter hanging out with Phil. I thought it was an important scene because it shows a shift in Peter’s motivation that propels the rest of the story.