The Power of the Dog Review
Out today on Blu-ray and 4K Blu is Jane Campions Academy Award-winning Film, The Power of the Dog.
From the press Synopsis:
‘After a sensitive widow (Kirsten Dunst) and her enigmatic, fiercely loving son (Kodi Smit-Mcphee) move in with her gentle new husband (Jesse Plemons), a tense battle of wills plays out between them and his brutish brother (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose frightening volatility conceals a secret torment, and whose capacity for tenderness, once reawakened, may offer him redemption or destruction. Campion, who won an Academy Award for her direction here, charts the repressed desire and psychic violence coursing among these characters with the mesmerizing control of a master at the height of her powers.’
The film is good enough, Jane Campion’s talent is extraordinary and has been for decades; however, I am not completely convinced Dog is a slam dunk. It works on many levels but, like its 1 Oscar win out of 12 nominations, it does not seem to totally seal the deal. I also note that I find myself on the fence about it even though I am instantly biased in favor of films with LGBT themes and characters in them. Don’t get me wrong, there are many great aspects to the film, chiefly among them are the phenomenal performances and direction.
If you have a Netflix account, and most do or at least have access to one, then you have likely already seen Dog for free. I see then three possible reasons you are considering buying the Blu-ray or the 4k Blu version (which is only five dollars more but we were only given the Blu-ray to review). One, you have already watched the movie and you love it and you want a physical copy. If that is the case then what are you waiting for? Order it already. The second option is you have not watched the movie but you routinely collect all Criterion releases. I get it, they are beautifully constructed and this one is no exception. That option follows much the same route as the first, go buy it! Finally, you have not seen it, but you are curious and you prefer physical media over streaming.
If option three is why you are reading this then I say go for it. The movie has some themes that are not far off from something like an even bleaker version of Brokeback Mountain. Indeed, there is even an interview on the disc with Annie Proulx who wrote an afterward for one of the releases of the original novel of Dog. If you enjoyed Brokeback on any level then Dog will be of interest to you. Also, this is the latest in a line of Criterion getting quality films out of Netflix’s server depository jail and into the hands of cinema lovers to collect, preserve, and cherish. That, by itself, would be a worthy reason to purchase in the hopes that they keep going and free more great motion pictures from the depths of Netflix’s digital well.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- 4K digital master, approved by director Jane Campion, with Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the Blu-ray and 4K UHD editions
- For the 4K UHD edition: One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
- Interview with Campion about the making of the film
- Program featuring interviews with members of the cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage captured on location in New Zealand
- Interview with Campion and composer Jonny Greenwood about the film’s score
- Conversation among Campion, director of photography Ari Wegner, actor Kirsten Dunst, and producer Tanya Seghatchian, moderated by filmmaker Tamara Jenkins
- New interview with novelist Annie Proulx
- English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- English descriptive audio
- PLUS: An essay by film critic Amy Taubin
2021 • 128 minutes • Color • Dolby Atmos/5.1 surround • 2.28:1 aspect ratio
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.