Power of the Dog [Grade: 77.5%]

Director: Jane Campion

Story By: Jane Campion

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Piemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, & Kirsten Dunst

* * *

Not a bad film… and I wouldn’t say it was a profound film… but it definitely proved to be interesting… 

* * *

Below are my grades for key components in #ThePowerOfTheDog that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character (pertaining to arc/development &/or delivery). FYI: My A=95, A- =90, B=85, B-=80…etc. My D- =60 and my F=50

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start, OR experience is intentionally relevant to the genre and executed well–nothing more), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: A-

Plot & Story: D

Pacing: C

Character: B

* * *

Entertainment Factors

General Public: Don’t Watch

Film Enthusiasts: Interesting Enough

Experience Seekers (via Visuals & Score): Don’t Watch

Western Drama Fans: Don’t Rush

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

1. Kirsten Dunst! It’s been so long! 🤭🙌🏾

2. I really appreciated the subtle insight to Bronco Henry. 👍🏾

3. This film has a runtime of over 2 hours, and baby do you feel it. The second half of Act Two and all of Act Three definitely picks up a bit with the pettiness and depth to Cumberbatch’s character, but the film actually moves a little too fast with our key characters to give me a chance to care to keep up with them. 🤷🏾‍♂️👎🏾

Instead of the early acts being one where I should’ve been more curiously intrigued to find out where the story was going, I found myself curious with frustration with how vague everything felt. 

4. For some reason, I found the image of the rabbit blood over the yellow Indiangrass beautiful. 👍🏾

5. A message that started to formulate and stick with me towards the second half of the film seemed to focus on the hyper- performance, image, expectations, and suppressed complexities of men/‘man’ that can be symbolized by wild dogs. 

Act Three provides the best execution of the messaging via Phil burbank’s petty interactions with the Gordons, as well as his moments of vulnerable solitude. Most of the setting when it comes to Phil takes place in the outdoors with his “pack” or fellow ranchers that also added to the thematic delivery. 

Acts One and Two—and more specifically Act Two—seem to use foil characterization with Phil and George to also speak to the theme, especially via George’s progression in parallel to Phil, and the dialogue between the two characters. 

My only issue is that the statement made at the start of the film really doesn’t exist as clearly as it was probably intended. 🤦🏾‍♂️👍🏾

6. To piggyback off point #5, character development with Cumberbatch was not only strong, but such a surprise in Act Three, and truly helped to drive the theme home. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

The issue with the character development/arc for me is that I didn’t find the story interesting enough, nor paced with intentionality, to give the characters qualities and intrigue worth following (and existing for that matter). So by the time I was able to see this solid performance supported by the storyline for Cumberbatch in the last third of the film, I was ready for the story to reset in order to see how his character would progress… but instead, the story ends. 

7. It was the naked bodies in the river for me! 😏🙃

8. That scene with Cumberbatch and the handkerchief was quite beautiful! 😩👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

9. Chile… the way the governor was just thrown in the mix…like, what was his purpose? 🤨🤦🏾‍♂️

10. A man committed to the ranching lifestyle  that was passed down to him and his brother by another, who was seen as more than a mentor, tries to exist while struggling to accept and watch the things he’s close to slip away…including himself. This is The Power of the Dog. 

As mentioned, Act Three is this film’s saving grace for me—It was the most aligned to the theme. Unfortunately, I found this story to be too damn mundane. There was literally no levels to this narrative, and getting through Acts One and Two is like taking a road trip through Indiana or Ohio… 🥴👎🏾

* * *

Overall #ThePowerOfTheDog gives Brokeback Mountain – meets Audre Lorde’s Hanging Fire poem – meets Animal Farm – meets Nomadland 

With the Golden Globes noms already out, I must admit I am a little disappointed that this film was given as many nominations as it received. As mentioned, it’s not a “bad” film, but it’s definitely not a profound film…The only good thing about this film is Benedict Cumberbatch in Act Three only, and it’s not a film that is worth receiving “award promotion and visibility” which potentially encourages others to check it out. 

It’s films like this that get nominations, that is a prime example of the concerns being brought up about diversity, inclusion, and representation with awards…

For me, it screams “legacy / membership / privilege-club default nomination.”

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