Jane Campion’s western drama will open theatrically Nov. 17 and on Netflix Dec. 1.
Rave reviews already are rolling in for The Power of the Dog, the eagerly awaited western drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst, and directed by Jane Campion (The Piano). Indeed, Campion’s film, which had its world premiere today at the Venice Film Festival, currently has a 100 percent approval score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Among the most enthusiastic notices:
Todd McCarthy of Deadline: “One thing is certain, that The Power Of The Dog is the most gorgeous-looking Western set in the early 20th century since Days Of Heaven 43 years ago. What’s also clear is that Jane Campion has made a complex and probing adaptation of the late Thomas Savage’s superb 1967 novel about two very different Montana rancher brothers caught in a twisted emotional bind. The film has its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival today, and although by rights it should be seen on the big screen, where it will debut on November 17, this turbulent yet intricately nuanced work will be most widely seen on Netflix, beginning December 1.”
David Erlich of IndieWire: “The action unfolds on a booming Montana cattle ranch circa 1925, a quarter-century since the kindly George Burbank (Jesse Plemons) and his viperous older brother Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) started working the business their parents gave them — they exude what Brokeback Mountain author Annie Proulx referred to as “quiet wealth” in the afterward she wrote for the republication of Savage’s novel. One is a sweet and simple wallflower of a man; the other is the fork-tongued lovechild of Daniel Plainview and Jack Twist, prone to calling George “fatso” and making a spectacle of any perceived weakness he smells on a man. Even in their early 40s and with a whole mansion at their disposal, these two eligible bachelors sleep in the same room.
“On an evening when the last rays of sunlight leave shadow puppets on the mountainsides and Jonny Greenwood’s lush score hangs particularly uneasy in the air, Phil takes George and the rest of his posse to the Red Mill restaurant where he makes life miserable for the widowed proprietress (Kirsten Dunst as Rose), and burns one of the paper flowers that her gentle teenage son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) places on the dinner tables for decoration. You can only imagine Phil’s juvenile peevishness when his brother marries Rose not long thereafter, and Peter — prim and surgical, with a lisp — becomes the rough-and-tumble cowboy’s step-nephew.”
Owen Gleiberman of Variety: “It’s a movie in which Campion, who shot it in her native New Zealand, works with a full-scale, at times painterly precision and control. It’s also a socially conscious psychodrama that builds, over time, to a full boil.”
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter: “Twelve years after her last feature, Jane Campion makes a thrilling return with The Power of the Dog, a work as boldly idiosyncratic, unpredictable and alive with psychological complexity as anything in the revered director’s output. For a filmmaker who has predominantly focused on forensic investigations of the female psyche, this riveting adaptation of the 1967 Thomas Savage novel represents an assured thematic shift to corrosive masculinity and repressed sexuality. The intimately uncomfortable drama is a chamber piece on an epic canvas, driven by transfixing performances from Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and, in a stunning breakout turn, young Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee.”
Xan Brooks of The Guardian: “Cumberbatch, that child of Harrow, makes a decent clenched fist of his role as vicious Phil Burbank. If you can believe him as a hard-bitten western thug, castrating cattle one-handed and lassoing mustangs in the yard, then Campion’s battle is already half-won. Except that Phil, we slowly realize, is also playing a role. He’s had to adapt to survive. He’s had to throttle his more refined qualities. Incrementally, by degrees, Campion shows the ways in which the men who set out to tame the frontier have instead been broken and bent to its will. Coarsened, desperate Phil Burbank longs to jump the fence and run free. The far hills aren’t the danger. It turns out that his troubles are much closer to home.”