superb and oppressive Western by Jane Campion

The worst defect of the first film than the Australian Jane Campion premieres in twelve years and with which he won the award for best direction at the last Venice festival is too much like “There will be blood” (“Wells of Ambition“) by Paul Thomas Anderson already “sky days” by Terrence Malick, although these are probably also his greatest virtues.

With the first he shares the choice of the musician Jonny Greenwood by Radiohead to create an atmospheric and sensory soundtrack. With the second, that lyrical and mysterious character that distances it from the parameters of the Western to use, linking the film with other essential titles of North American cinema, such as the enormous and devastatingly beautiful “The heaven’s Door” directed by Michael Cimino in 1980.

What is certain is that this is an extraordinary film, an essential title so far this year. A disturbing, enigmatic and powerfully beautiful film that deserves to be enjoyed on the big screen.

The cinema, in this 2021, continues mainly to debate about masculinity and Jane Campion uses the western, a fundamentally masculine genre to adapt a novel by Thomas Savage published in 1967.

The story of two brothers, Phil and George, co-owners of a huge ranch in Montana in the 1920s, and the conflict that ensues when George marries Rose, a young widow with a teenage son, is the starting point of a film that will ramble on toxic masculinities, castrating personalities, repressed desires and social impositions.

The contrast between the rude character of Phil and the sensitivity of his brother George together with the attack on masculinity that the arrival at the ranch of an empowered female figure and the internal storm caused by the visits of her son in the bruised but fearsome character played by Cumberbatch will be the axes on which the twisted plot is built.

This sickly and oppressive environment will be portrayed in an elegant and very slow way by the director of “El Piano”, who will take her time to efficiently develop her characters.

The contradictions that its main character harbors will be exposed on screen with the use, in contrast, of a luminous photograph of wide landscapes masterfully made by the director of photography Ari Wegner.

In “The Power of the Dog” We are facing one of the most successful castings of recent times. The acting work is outstanding. All the protagonists on which the drama is based are brilliant: the versatile and omnipresent Jesse Plemons (can he be called the best of his generation?) He complements perfectly with the one who is, in real life, his partner, that enormous actress who is a praise to fragility but also to feminine strength call Kristen Dunts.

The very young Australian Kodi Smit-Mcphee (which we saw in the American remake of “Let me in” and in the role of Nightcrawler in the X-men saga) is confirmed as one of the most impressive new faces of contemporary cinema and in the case of Benedict Cumberbatch we find an interpretation that borders on the sublime. His incarnation of rancher Phil Burbank is historic and it will be difficult not to see him among this year’s Oscar nominees for best actor. Cumberbatch builds a complex and murky villain character full of nuances that would be something like the antagonistic reflection of the character played by James Dean in “Giant” (George Stevens, 1956), another of the films from which “The Power of the Dog” takes references. A contradictory figure that frightens and exerts its patriarchal violence in an oppressive, virile and sometimes unbearable micro-cosm.

One of those movies that you should not miss for anything in the world. Complex, seductive, cloudy and of extraordinary beauty. It is very close to being an absolute Masterpiece, if it is not.

The Power of the Dog” will hit screens throughout Spain this Friday, November 19, and on Netflix on December 1.

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