Benedict Cumberbatch is darkly cruel in this Netflix period drama tipped for Oscar glory

Following the release of a new trailer, excitement is building for Netflix’s western, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst. Here’s everything you need to know about The Power Of The Dog, the gritty period drama tipped to win big at the Oscars.

Following a four-minute standing ovation from an adoring audience at the Venice Film Festival back in August, the excitement for The Power Of The Dog, Netflix’s emotional period drama just keeps on building.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst in lead roles, the Jane Campion-directed western has been making waves with reviewers and early audiences ahead of its release on the streaming site on 1 December, and has already been tipped for Oscar glory. 

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Kirstin Dunst in Netflix’s The Power Of The Dog

What is the plot ofThe Power Of The Dog?

Based on the 1967 novel by Thomas Savage, it tells the story of a 1920s Montana farmer named Phil Burbank (Cumberbatch), who stews in anger over the marriage of his brother George (Jesse Plemons) to his new bride Rose (Dunst).

As the official synopsis explains further: “Severe, pale-eyed, handsome, Phil Burbank is brutally beguiling. All of Phil’s romance, power and fragility is trapped in the past and in the land: He can castrate a bull calf with two swift slashes of his knife; he swims naked in the river, smearing his body with mud. He is a cowboy as raw as his hides.

The year is 1925. The Burbank brothers are wealthy ranchers in Montana. At the Red Mill restaurant on their way to market, the brothers meet Rose, the widowed proprietress, and her impressionable son Peter. Phil behaves so cruelly he drives them both to tears, revelling in their hurt and rousing his fellow cowhands to laughter – all except his brother George, who comforts Rose then returns to marry her.

As Phil swings between fury and cunning, his taunting of Rose takes an eerie form – he hovers at the edges of her vision, whistling a tune she can no longer play. His mockery of her son is more overt, amplified by the cheering of Phil’s cowhand disciples. Then Phil appears to take the boy under his wing. Is this latest gesture a softening that leaves Phil exposed, or a plot twisting further into menace?”

The film’s poster gives little of the plot away

Is there a trailer for The Power Of The Dog?

Ahead of the December premiere, Netflix has just released a brand new two minute trailer, and the Cumberbatch we see is a far cry from the quietly sensitive Sherlock Holmes or Alan Turing we have seen him play before. Instead, the film looks to be a gritty take on what it means to be a man on the fringes of 1920’s society.

Cumberbatch’s Phil Burbank is hard, coarse, jaded to the point of being cruel. In the trailer, we witness him ruthlessly taunting Peter, the son of his brother’s new wife Rose, who Phil also doesn’t approve of him being “mixed up” with. “He’s just a man,” Dunst’s character Rose attempts to convince herself in the trailer. But from what we can see, Cumberbatch is a dark and brooding one at that.

However, there is certainly some underlying lust and longing between Cumberbatch and Dunst, setting the tension against the arid backdrop of a midwestern ranch.

Watch it below:

What are people saying about The Power Of The Dog?

Following the reaction, many are tipping Cumberbatch for a long-awaited Oscar, following his previous Best Actornomination for his portrayal of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Cumberbatch already holds an Emmy Award and a BAFTA for his roles in Sherlock Holmes and Patrick Melrose respectively. 

The Guardian called it a “beautiful, brawny western” about “the wreckage caused by men.”

Cumberbatch himself told The Hollywood Reporter: “It’s a lesson in how tangled up you can become, how toxic masculinity can become if your true identity is not allowed or tolerated or celebrated or accepted.”

Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons in Netflix’s The Power Of The Dog

Where can I watch The Power Of The Dog?

The film is scheduled to be released in cinemas on 19 November, prior to streaming on Netflix on 1 December.

Images: Netflix

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