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Film Friday: 'The Power of the Dog' has nothing to do with your favorite pets

The Power of the Dog
The Power of the Dog. (Handout)

Every Friday, Nevada Sports Net's Jared Brosnan, a lover of film and television, will review one movie or show and give you his thoughts heading into the weekend.

The Power of the Dog

Run time: 2 hours, 6 minutes

Where to watch: Netflix exclusive

Director: Jane Campion

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee

Plot in 25 words or less: Based on the 1967 Thomas Savage novel, George Burbank brings a new wife to the ranch co-owned with his older brother, Phil. Tensions arise in 1925 Montana between the hard-nose Phil and his sister-in-law Rose.

Full review

In what is now the frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars this March, "The Power of the Dog" is a prime choice for lovers of acting, western landscape and slow plot development. In what was a Golden Globe Awards conducted over social media, "Power of the Dog" won Best Motion Picture (Drama), Best Director and Best Supporting Actor. The Globes did correctly predict the Oscars last year as Nomadland won Best Picture at both shows. It will be interesting to see if part of the boycott on the HFPA this year is to choose films not picked by that committee for this year's Oscars.

Campion looks to return to the Academy Awards for the first time since her 1993 romantic drama "The Piano" where she won Best Director with Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin taking home acting awards.

I think it's important for this review to not just agree with every critic or fan consensus on a topic. This movie has a 95 percent critic score and 82 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It's fair to say it's incredibly popular in both movie-going demographics. I found it incredibly boring and was waiting for this 2-hour run time to hurry up and finish.

There's nothing wrong with a slow movie that takes time to mature. I prefer films to give time to let scenes breathe and give actors and dialogue a chance to be just as important as what is happening in the plot. This is not a movie for people looking to be on the edge of their seats for 2 hours.

Using a sports analogy, this one of those middle-of-summer PGA Tour events between majors with no top-10 players in the field. For those who love golf (or gamblers), no matter what they'll enjoy watching, whereas fans who'd rather be watching Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau pound a ball 300 yards off the tee may tend to doze off by the 9th hole.

This is not to say "The Power of the Dog" is bad. It has fantastic acting by Cumberbatch and Smit-McPhee, who has a breakout role after playing Nightcrawler in two of the worst X-Men movies every made (Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix.) It's important to see how Rose Gordon-Burbank (Dunst) struggles to her new life at a large ranch with a wealthy husband.

The scenery is beautiful on the Burbank Ranch as rural New Zealand plays Montana in 1925. It is a "cinema-lovers" type film, something Campion is known for. If you need explosions and CGI to be entertained to enjoy a movie, it will not be a fun watch. For viewers who want to see acting and cinematography at their truest forms, "The Power of the Dog" offers it. Also, don't expect to see many dogs.

Rating: 3/4 Dog Treats

NSN Daily producer Jared Brosnan grew up experiencing and working in the film industry around Los Angeles. He graduated from Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, ranked as the fourth-best film school by the Hollywood Reporter in 2021. You can email him at and follow him on Twitter @jared_brosnan.

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