Analysis and Review, The Power of the Dog

Netflix, BBC Film

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The Power of the Dog 2021



Here’s how I see it.

My God, my god. Why hast thou forsaken me?

Phil, who is a jerk for the first half of the movie, feels forsaken by god. It becomes clear that he’s hiding his true self behind a veil of vileness in order to survive in his world - he also happens to be incredibly insecure.

Therefore when Peter, young, seemingly naive, and living his true self, shows up on the scene, Phil lashes out 1. to maintain his cover, 2. because he’s resentful. 

Peter (depending on the path you choose) is either a punishing God or a loyal dog (to God or rather his mother - Peter’s god). So when Kirsten Dunst begins to spiral Peter hatches a plan to make sure mommy doesn’t have to deal with the bad man anymore. 

(I could get into the issue of Rose’s “alcoholic personality” and Peter’s assumption that eliminating the man would cure the disease revealing that in fact he too is naive and therefore not a strong metaphor for God indicating we ought to prefer the path of the loyal pet, but I won’t.)

I like to think this movie didn’t include a single shot or line of dialogue it didn’t need (and that may certainly be true in regards to dialogue), but act one dragged only to be aided by the visual depiction of chapters (I, II, III, IV, V, etc.). 

This was an excellent movie and I won’t be upset or surprised if it claims some major awards come Oscar season. But as my brother aptly put it, it (at first) “failed to entertain.”

And I agree, it was slow at first, but like a lot of good books (this movie was based on a book), it gets captivating once you realize what’s going on.  

Fantastic movie, but my rating shaves off half a star for a slow start. After all, we’re here to be entertained.

4.5/5 STARS ★★★★½

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