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THE POWER OF THE DOG

Individual scenes brim with tension and understated emotions yet they often feel strangely detached from the main narrative.


Make no mistake, there are many things to admire in The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion's first feature film in over a decade.


From the gorgeous cinematography and Johnny Greenwood's eerie musical score to excellent performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee, as well as Campion's direction, which is on par with the best work she's ever done, the picture has all the ingredients to fully merit the raves it's getting from just about every critic out there.


But for me The Power of the Dog was always less than the sum of its parts. Individual scenes might brim with tension and understated emotions yet they too often feel strangely detached from the main narrative. Intriguing themes and characters are woven into the film but they either aren't allowed to fully blossom or they don't progress past tired clichés.


Another sticking point for me was the performance of Kirsten Dunst, whose descent into alcoholism is the kind of stagey awards bait that I've grown allergic to. And then there is that last-minute twist, which annoyingly never feels earned and hints a much better film that could have been culled from the material, making for a disappointing climax.



release: 2021

director: Jane Campion

starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee

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