TIFF 2021: The Power of the Dog dir. Jane Campion

Combining intimate drama with dramatic landscapes has been a signature of Jane Campion’s work, and in her latest film, The Power of the Dog, which she also wrote, that mixture still holds true, giving us a different kind of western.

Set in Montana, 1925, the film centres around two ranching brothers, the hard-edged, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch), and George (Jesse Plemons) who is attempting to elevate his image, if not that of the ranch. Into their lives comes Rose (Kirsten Dunst) who is, as Phil calls her, a suicide widow. Her son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) sees the faults and errors in everything around him, even if he ays nothing, and is seen as a laugh around the ranch.

Phil and Rose don’t care for one another at all, and against the gorgeous hills and plains, shot beautifully, a drama as old as time is going to play out anew, and none of the characters will ever be the same.

Painting captivating images with her visuals, and emotions with her actors, Campion has never talked down to her audience, and the story takes its time, insisting you watch moment to moment.

It’s a slow burn of a piece that shows how masterful Campion is with her storytelling, and how strong a visual eye she has.

The Power of the Dog screens again this evening, and next Saturday, but offers digital screenings tonight and next Friday.

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