It’s been over a decade since Jane Campion last graced our screens with a feature film, but The Power of the Dog is nearly upon us. Based upon the novel by Thomas Savage, the film is set in 1925 Montana and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank, a charismatic rancher who inspires fear and awe in those around him.
When Phil’s brother George (Jesse Plemons) marries widower Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and brings her home along with her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Phil relentlessly torments them. But after bringing the boy under his wing, Phil finds himself exposed to the possibility of love. Netflix has released the first trailer for The Power of the Dog, and while it doesn’t show much, it certainly looks awfully compelling.
The official synopsis for The Power of the Dog:
Severe, pale-eyed, handsome, Phil Burbank is brutally beguiling. All of Phil’s romance, power and fragility is trapped in the past and in the land: He can castrate a bull calf with two swift slashes of his knife; he swims naked in the river, smearing his body with mud. He is a cowboy as raw as his hides. The year is 1925. The Burbank brothers are wealthy ranchers in Montana. At the Red Mill restaurant on their way to market, the brothers meet Rose, the widowed proprietress, and her impressionable son Peter. Phil behaves so cruelly he drives them both to tears, reveling in their hurt and rousing his fellow cowhands to laughter – all except his brother George, who comforts Rose then returns to marry her. As Phil swings between fury and cunning, his taunting of Rose takes an eerie form – he hovers at the edges of her vision, whistling a tune she can no longer play. His mockery of her son is more overt, amplified by the cheering of Phil’s cowhand disciples. Then Phil appears to take the boy under his wing. Is this latest gesture a softening that leaves Phil exposed, or a plot-twisting further into menace?
The Power of the Dog will debut in select theaters on November 17, 2021, before hitting Netflix on December 1, 2021.