The Power of the Dog, Worthy of a Re-Watch

For my initial watch of The Power of the Dog, [and I truly want a re-watch as this movie has some hidden gem moments that hit you out of nowhere and are gone to quickly to be appreciated just once (the post wedding waltz, the Bronco Bill handkerchief scene, the smoking of the same cigarette scene, just to name a few)], I couldn’t help but take a family dynamics perspective. Just for kicks, I’d like you to rise above the evil ‘outer core’ of Phil and look deeper into the family presented. I confess, I did not read the book, nor intend to, I have too much else to read.
Phil comes from a pseudo wealthy family (I say pseudo since if they were that rich, there’d be heat in the country house…(reminded me of Small Fry, the Lisa Jobs memoir about her millionaire father who refused to heat her side of the mansion). But I digress…we are presented with a wealthy family containing two brothers. Dad is relatively passive, Mother seems pretty emotionally remote as well. Phil goes to Harvard and in all appearances, seems to be the star child during their early years, yet in the present time of the movie, George, the younger, allegedly dumber of the two, is in the more powerful position, perhaps like his Dad (or Mom) emotionally stifled all while ‘playing’ the weaker son. Further proof is that George gets to leave the farm whenever he chooses, as Phil does the manual labor and is foremen of the men and therefore, doesn’t have such freedom.
So while Phil shows his angry cards, George stuffs all of his emotions, appearing pretty arrogant and in control. Many times Phil wants to reminisce with George, albeit at George’s weaknesses and expense, yet because George is dismissive, a vicious cycle is set up where Phil never gets the love he seeks. As the adage goes, the one who cares least, has the most power.
Mind you, I’m not saying Phil’s a good guy, BUT to say that George is ‘an innocent’, is definitely wrong. He marries a woman and says how happy he is not to be alone, but in the end, his bride seems to be just a pawn to further distance himself from his brother and serve as a trophy prize on the farm.
AND NOW MY REVIEW: I will not spoil the movie, but will simply say the cinematography, music and acting is off the charts precise. I would have excised two scenes, the hula hoop and the horse foreplay, but beyond that, the movie was genius. Benedict, amazing, Jesse Plemons (and here’s where I hear Charlie Kaufman scream, “yeh, but did you see him in MY movie??”) and Kirsten Dunst, tremendous, the latter of the two who really deserve awards solely based on their body of work. I feel like Kodi Smit-McPhee is getting a lot of rookie love for his role, that while nuanced, doesn’t contain the range I feel necessary to be awarded. I’m more of a ‘make him earn his stripes’ person, or in this case, his rope (inside joke to the movie once you see it).

By Goldie

Aspiring writer who has retired from the institution of education. I've written plays, three of which have been performed both in Rochester NY and here in Sarasota FL. I also write stand up and obviously, film critique. My comment section does not work, so please email me your comments at

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