The Power of The Dog Review: Benedict Cumberbatch commands the screen in Netflix’s new western

Jane Campion returns after 12 years with her new film The Power of the Dog. Read why the wait was worth it in our review:
the power of the dog cumberbatch

Acclaimed director Jane Campion returns after 12 years with her new film The Power of the Dog. Read why the wait was wort

In a year full of big blockbusters, which is still commanded by a pandemic, we reached the point where the awards candidates get released. And one of them is Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog. The acclaimed director of The Piano returns 12 years after her last film with an intimate, atmospheric and character driven western, that gifts us with Benedict Cumberbatch’s strongest performance so far. 


The Netflix western follows charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.

The Power of The Dog Is Powerful But Slow

the power of the dog dunst

Campions’ newest picture is a slow-burner. The pacing is very slow and the film definitely takes its time, lets the camera stay on the characters, especially their faces. That is one of the films biggest strength, the characters don’t tell the audience how they feel and what is going through their head. The audience gets a sense of that through the all around fantastic performances from everyone evolved, especially Benedict Cumberbatch. He commands the screen in a way only a few actors can. Kirsten Dunst’s performances is very subtle, but extremely powerful at the same time.

Those performances get accompanied by the gorgeous cinematography, capturing the raw and wide landscape of 1925 Montana with popping colors and effective choices with the color grading. And last but not least, I have to highlight the incredibly atmospheric score by Jonny Greenwood.

The film loses through its slow pacing, that makes the audience believe that we are actually going somewhere. An emotional, explosive finale to which all of the film led. Sadly we didn’t get one. Actually its ending is quite predictable and never really resolves the conflicts between the characters. As soon as the credits started rolling, I was like “That is it?!”. Maybe it is because it was adapted from a book with the same by Thomas Savage. I have’t read it so I’m just speculating, but I could imagine that the ending works better in written form as it tells the audiences the characters thoughts, while the film closes with them being in the distance.

The Power of the Dog is an atmospheric, raw and character driven western, that doesn’t take the audience by its hand. For better and worse. Cumberbatch delivers a career-best work and Kirsten Dunst’s subtle performance is just as powerful. The technical aspects are marvelous. Jane Campion’s return is a triumph, even with its struggles.


The Power of the Dog is based on the book with the same name by Thomas Savage and is written and directed by Jane Campion. It stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.


What do you guys think? Are you planning to watch it? Have you seen it already, if so how did you like it? Let’s discuss everything in the comments down below and on our Twitter.



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Finn Schlote

Finn thinks and talks about movies all day, has a strong interest in how movies are made and he loves great cinematography. Comedy or horror, arthouse or big-budget blockbuster, Finn watches everything. He is a passionate Blu-Ray collector and is still waiting for a Jumper (2008) sequel.