The Power of the Dog Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The Power of the Dog is a new movie from Netflix that might feel like a painful cowboy drama. But the film is definitely worth giving it a try. And then Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, as well as Australian actor Cody Smith-McPhee will gradually reveal the story with an unpredictable ending.

«The Power of the Dog» / The Power of the Dog

Drama genre
Directed by Jane Campion
Cast Benedict Cumberbatch (Phil Burbank), Kirsten Dunst (Rose Gordon), Jesse Plemons (George Burbank), Thomasin McKenzie (Lola), Cody Smith-McPhee (Peter Gordon), Genevieve Lemon (Mrs. Lewis), Sean Keenan (Sven) and others.
See-Saw Films, Brightstar, Max Films International
Release year 2021
IMDb website
Where to watch Netflix

The film is set in 1925 in Montana. The Burbank brothers own a large ranch where they raise cattle and train horses for years. The characters lead fairly similar lives, but they are very different people. Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a rough and headstrong cowboy who takes pleasure in humiliating others. George (Jesse Plemons) is a gentle man who prefers more delicate communication.

The two get along well, but Phil notices a change in George – the quiet brother is spending time with the local widow Rose (Kirsten Dunst). With all three under the same roof, Phil keeps his distance, but the atmosphere inside the house becomes tense.

The screenplay of the film “The Power of the Dog” is based on the novel of the same name by American writer Thomas Savage. Without knowing the content of the book, it is difficult to guess in which direction the plot of the picture will unfold. And this is one of the main advantages of the film, divided into five chapters (thanks to which there are smooth jumps in time that do not require additional explanations).


At first, the picture seems like a slow drama dedicated to how one of the characters is jealous of his brother for a woman. All attention is focused on Benedict Cumberbatch – the actor has played the role of people with a difficult character before, but this time he has surpassed himself.

When Cumberbatch’s character appears in the frame, a feeling of discomfort arises with him – we have a completely unbearable person in front of us, making sarcastic comments towards those whom he considers weaker than himself. The cowboy mocks the son of the heroine Kirsten Dunst (played by Cody Smith-McPhee from X-Men: Apocalypse), mocking the habits and weaknesses of the young man.


It would seem that everything is quite clear in the despotic hero of Benedict Cumberbatch, but the tape is gradually opening up from new sides. If we accept the slow pace of development of events and remain attentive to minor details, then the drama will be able to impress those who reach the very end (it is not for nothing that the Western film press notes that the film has a chance to get into the nominations of the leading film awards – thanks to the adaptation of the script, as well as the acting of the actors).

The film was directed by a director who already has an Oscar – this is Jane Campion, known for the drama The Piano and the TV series Top of the Lake. Interestingly, Campion prefers to build a measured pace of development of history, placing visual accents, which are sometimes more expressive than words.


The film was shot in New Zealand, so beautiful, albeit deserted, mountain landscapes often appear in the frame. When the plot is just gaining momentum, the cameraman Ari Wegner (who worked on The Girlfriend Experience) shows the ranch from different angles, and when it comes to a climax, he lingers for a long time on the horses with which Cumberbatch’s character is associated – something terrible is about to happen, and this event cannot be predicted in advance.

Dog Power is a slow movie, but not boring. From the first minutes, he is enlivened by music written by Jonny Greenwood (guitarist of Radiohead). Also in the picture there is a piano, which sits Kirsten Dunst, and a banjo – in the hands of Benedict Cumberbatch, a stringed instrument becomes a tool that helps to mock those who feel especially vulnerable.


“Power of the Dog” and other unhurried films are best viewed in theaters where there is no way to pause the tape. However, Netflix is ​​experimenting with genre diversity and, apparently, deliberately replenishing its collection with films that may be awarded film awards in the future.

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Pros: The cast, led by Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the insufferable man; it is difficult to guess in which direction the plot will unfold; visual accents; music by Jonny Greenwood Cons: at first glance it seems like a very slow drama Conclusion:

“Power of the Dog” is one of the most unusual new streaming service Netflix. This is a story with an unpredictable climax and a very interesting performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.

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