Netflix’s Power of the Dog focuses on a character’s hostile masculinity, which ultimately contributes to its downfall.

The power of the dog is an interesting contemplation of masculinity by director Jane Campion. It’s an in-depth study of the character of an entire ensemble cast – especially Benedict Cumberbatch’s Phil Burbank, whose tough cowboy pride ultimately causes his downfall.

The power of the dog tells the story of the Burbank brothers, Phil and George (Jesse Plemons), wealthy ranchers in Montana in 1925. Phil is a controlling man, constantly belittling his brother, who in turn defies Phil by marrying a widow, Rose (Kirsten Dunst), and brought her to live at the ranch. Her presence only increases Phil’s hostility, leading her to frustration by constantly whistling music that she can no longer play on the piano. Rose begins to drown her grief in alcohol while trying to hide it from everyone.

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Phil shows off his toxic masculinity as a badge of honor, which is, in effect, his prison. It’s a masquerade of what masculinity is supposed to be, the legacy of a ghost from his past, Bronco Henry, who taught him everything he knows. But Bronco was much more than a mentor; he was Phil’s true love. But the world he grew up in holds no place for that secret, and the exhaustion of the aggressive male identity slowly begins to tear his soul apart, especially when Rose’s son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) returns home. home for school holidays.

The deconstruction of Phil’s harsh masculinity begins there, as does his demise. Phil feels threatened by Peter’s thin, effeminate figure until he watches him wearing a giant-brimmed cowboy hat while parading past Phil’s cowherds. It is a scene of bravery as much as brutal provocation. Phil understands who the boy is and he’s impressed.

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There is hope for change in Phil, but his disdain for Rose remains. To her despair, the bond between Peter and Phil grows stronger. But Pierre is no fool. The greatest foreshadowing is actually The power of the dogPeter’s opening narration: “When my father passed away, I wanted nothing more than my mother’s happiness, because what kind of man would I be if I didn’t help my mother? If I didn’t didn’t save?”

The power of the dog

Peter has a surgical personality, reflected in how he sets out to be a real surgeon. He catches and kills animals to study, and he observes how Phil and his cowherds run the ranch. Phil’s macho personality is also reflected in his actions: he barely bathes, he dresses in the same clothes every day, and he handles animals, including the rough castrations of bulls, without gloves. He believes he doesn’t need gloves because he never handles sick animals, as some of them die of anthrax. But Phil dies towards the end of The power of the dog, and the doctor suspects anthrax to be the cause. So how exactly does this happen?

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Earlier, Phil promises to make a rope for Peter out of the hides from the ranch. During a little escape trip, Phil moves positions with Peter while trying to catch a rabbit when he gets a huge gash in his hand, which he immediately rejects. Upon his return, Phil finds that Rose has given away all of his remaining skins and is furious. Sensing that his mother is in danger, Peter gives Phil some rawhide that he himself pulled (with gloves) from a dead cow in the mountains. This way Phil can finish making the rope. By washing the rawhide with his injured bare hand, Phil becomes infected.

Thus, Phil’s masculine pride, perceived by Peter and his strategy, causes his downfall. The meaning of the film’s title comes from the passage of Psalm 22:20: “Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog. For Campion, it’s the perfect metaphor for the toxicly masculine atmosphere of the film: “in a way, sexuality is like human suffering. In the title, it’s a kind of warning. The power of the dog is all these uncontrollable deep urges that come to destroy us, you know?

To see Phil’s machismo come back to bite him, The Power of the Dog is available to stream on Netflix.

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