The Burbank brothers, Phil and George, are antagonistic and yet partners, they respect each other and live together as owners of the largest ranch in the Montana valley. Phil –the central axis of the film thanks to the sober gesture, always disturbing, with which Benedict Cumberbatch gives the character he plays– is a hermetic man who, at the same time, arouses fear and admiration in those around him. George (Jesse Plemons) is the other side of the coin thanks to his patient and good-natured character. One is slim and angular; the other plump and careless. One is violent and challenging; the other calm and sensitive. in need of love
They are inseparable, they ride together hauling the thousands of head of cattle from their farm and they even sleep in the same room and in the same beds that they occupied when they were children. Their lives flow together until George falls in love with Rose, a young widow (Kirsten Dunst, in perhaps the best role of her career to date), marries and decides to bring his wife and her son to live on the ranch. , Peter (also magnificent Kodi Smit-McPhee, as recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association when awarding him the Golden Globe for best supporting actor), an enigmatic adolescent of uncertain sexuality and skin-deep sensitivity.
From that moment, Phil encourages their cruelty and decides to make life miserable for the newcomers. He mercilessly unleashes all his violence on the woman and the boy, while George watches in bewilderment at an animosity he doesn't understand. So things, until the animal that Phil has inside begins to feel a kind of irrepressible attraction to the young man.
Between dazzling landscapes runs the tragic story of betrayal and desire of The power of the dog , which captures through an direction of actors that was already fully shown in the director almost thirty years ago when she premiered The piano (1993). Repressed feelings and capped emotions as a result of a strangely cloistered sexuality give the film a disturbing, buried, tragedy that increases in each of the frames of the more than two hours of footage.
Everything fits into what is narrated, including Jonny Greenwood's atypical and dissonant soundtrack, against a suffocating, rough and masculine background, in a nascent America of horizonless territories and primitive and extreme values.
As Campion points out, desire marks The Power of the Dog “because this sentiment is of fundamental interest to me because it speaks to what motivates human beings. Savage broke with her book the schemes of the western with her complex study on masculinities” and she, the director, has captured the spirit of the book in an essential film.