George (played by Jesse Plemons) and Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) are wealthy ranchers and close knit brothers that work by herding cattle throughout the plains in the early 20th century. This is a time where women cook and care for the men without much independence. Phil is a drunk and George picks up after him, buying into his bullying tough guy behavior. The brothers herd cattle as ranchers and learned it from their uncle, Bronco Henry, who has since passed away.
Phil really misses Bronco Henry very much, and has a loving note for his company and mentorship. We eerily find out that the relationship may have been more than that and potentially abusive as Jane Campion’s western movie plays out.
Shot in New Zealand, but staged to look like Montana in the 1920’s, these two well-off brother ranchers keep it simple with hard manual farm work. Phil is very jaded and clearly disturbed as his bullying behavior and toxic masculinity peak as he verbally abuses those around him. There always seems to be some unwritten truths glaring out of the sidelines as we watch their lives unfold. It’s interesting to note that there seems to be some silver lining lurking in the background as if someone or something is going to explode at any minute, where the audience patiently watches as if they were walking on eggshells as the time ticks by.
As the brothers head off on a new routine cow herding trip, they bring along 8 other farm hands to help them out. As they arrive in a new town, their herd of cattle arrives healthy and stable. They come to a restaurant with beds and dining, also known as an old time inn. As the men approach, they are welcomed with a nicely set dinner table and fine linens. The widower that runs the place, named Mrs. Rose Gordon (played by Kirsten Dunst), and her creative son Peter (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee), both work hard that day to kill and prep the chickens to fry for the new group of ranchers.
Side note, Rose’s husband was a doctor and we come to find out he had died before the film, so we never get a shot of him but can see by his mild mannered son that he must have been a good father. Peter is quite the creative and proves with artistry by folding beautiful flowers made of colored paper that resemble the real thing. He is quite the artist and fills up a sketch book with all of his drawings and pictures he takes too. The single mother takes care of the restaurant and inn with a bar, where her son helps support her with the cooking and waiting on the new guests that arrive to stay with them.
George quickly comes and takes a liking to the woman. She consoles her after his drunk brother harasses her son. He finds her beautiful and starts helping her serve the food at her restaurant when her son is playing around. George and the woman seem to start a romance that everyone does not favor, particularly Phil, the codependent drunkard. As Phil continues to drink more and console himself, he continues bullying George’s new wife Rose, now driving her to drink as well. Her son Peter sees her slow degradation, and wants to get her back to her old self by getting to know and help Phil.
The Power of the Dog is an interesting film that gives us all a glimpse into a world long gone. Life was hard but simple, and this film gives us a peak into a well to do farm owner along with the political aspects of life on the ranch. Breeding horses, raising and killing animals for dinner, and making sure the vegetables were healthy and edible was all that was available to those living in the west. It was a way of survival, and running the farm was a way of life.
George soon falls for Rose Gordon as he asks for her hand in marriage. Phil is outraged and hurt that his brother marries her without telling him however. He soon goes mad with jealousy, as his close knit brotherhood falls to the waist side with his new found marriage with Rose.
Soon after they marry, Rose teaches him to dance. George is happy again that he’s not alone anymore.
Chaos soon ensues, which is interesting and a bit slow moving however the shots of the plains were really beautiful anas it gives us a view of the mountains and shows how simple life was back then. We enjoyed theis Netflix movie, and if you are into time period films this may be for you.
Did you see this Netflix film yet? If so, did you enjoy it?
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