The Power of the Dog
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The Power of the Dog (2021)

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A domineering but charismatic rancher wages a war of intimidation on his brother’s new wife and her teen son, until long-hidden secrets come to light.


If this was made 20 years ago it would have been truly groundbreaking. As it stands, it’s just another addition to the paint-by-woke approach to character development. That’s not to say it doesn’t have any merit. It most certainly does. It looks great. The acting is pretty much flawless. Casting is spot on.

But for me it all falls down when it comes to character development, or should I say lack thereof.

The repressed gay guy (Phil) is the most vocal in abusing the gay teenager (Peter), and makes for the most interesting character. The good husband (George) is loyal, kind and completely sexless. The woman (Rose) is fragile, protective and neurotic. The gay teenager (Peter) is quiet and gentle but behaves more like a shy gamer than a young man of the time. This makes the ultimate twist surprising and unbelievable at the same time.

I couldn’t help but think how much more interesting this could have been if there had been more complex interactions between the characters. If Rose, bored by her sexless husband, had developed an infatuation with the macho Phil it could have made for an interesting way to reveal Phil’s repressed desires. I was also disappointing that Peter did not interact in any meaningful way with his new stepfather, who would have been the perfect person to come out to, possibly creating a tension between him and his mother who had not directly addressed his sexuality. Or what if his mother had found out about his plan to kill Phil? Would she have remained silent? There are no many unrealized possibilities with these characters.

Overall, it’s a missed opportunity with a lot of the cast wandering around looking into the distance, beautiful as it is. It will no doubt win awards but bore audiences, as most award-winning moves so now.