Vol. 15, No. 14 – Apr 6 – Apr 19, 2022 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
The Power of the Dog – Netflix

3 out of 4 palm trees
Breeze rating from 1 to 4 palm trees, 4 being best.

The Power of the Dog is a 2022 Oscar winning Western set in Montana in1925 that focuses on the lives of wealthy ranchers Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his brother George (Jesse Plemons). Phil was rugged, fierce and the leader of a dozen ranch hands that lived the cowboy lifestyle, often causing him to act cruelly to gain the favor of his cowhand followers. George was very conservative, always wearing a suit and handled the business end of the family business.

The Burbank brothers and their men frequented the Red Mill restaurant owned by a window named Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and run with the help of her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Peter was not very masculine, and along with helping his mother had hobbies like making paper flowers that resembled those he used to see in his mother’s old florist shop. Peter’s demeanor made him an easy target for Phil to insult to entertain his crew, causing both he and his mother to be in tears by the end of the evening.

George was always complimentary and kind, and comforted Rose while gripped with the frustration of seeing how her son was mistreated and misunderstood. George took a strong liking to Rose, and they were married shortly thereafter. Rose gave up her business and moved to the ranch with Peter, where she began to lose herself and drink to numb her reality. Peter was continually harassed and belittled by Phil and this band of bigots, who openly called him fairy and would intentionally make Peter feel scared and uncomfortable.

It seemed it would be only a matter of time before some ill would happen with Peter, with Phil often referring to him as Little Lord Fauntleroy and mocking him with every opportunity. One day while Peter was walking in the woods he happened upon Phil’s secret spot, where he found some magazines that focused on male bodies and though he did find Phil swimming nearby, Phil was unaware of Peter’s discovery.

For some reason after their chance meeting in the woods, Phil completely changed how he treated Peter, including teaching him to ride and spend time with the other cowhands. Phil even promised to make Peter his own rope and show him how to use it, but this simple gesture became his downfall. Phil didn’t know that the hide strips Peter gave him to finish the rope was from a diseased cow, which unknown to Peter was often the source of Anthrax on the ranch. As Phil braided the pieces of hide he shared the he and his idol Bronco Henry were more than just friends, and gave Peter a glimpse into the gentler, kinder side of Phil though nothing physical happened between them.

Not knowing it would be the last time they spoke, Phil talked about he and Peter riding away into the mountains and exploring like the original pioneers. The next morning Phil was unable to get out of bed, so his brother rushed him to the doctor but he died shortly after getting to town. Peter kept the rope but left the ranching life behind when Phil passed away, which seemed to help reconcile the relationship with his mother and her husband though Peter seemed to once again be in the world alone.

Rated: R (Full Nudity|Brief Sexual Content)
Runtime: 2h 8m

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