Does Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ deserve so much praise?


CINEMA – Every year, it’s the same tune. Of all the ceremonies in Hollywood, a movie usually turns out well and 2022 is no exception to the rule with the latest feature film from Jane Campionthe power of the doga favorite of Oscar organized this Sunday March 27 in Los Angeles.

Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, but also Best Cinematography and Best Editing. the power of the dog He is nominated in twelve categories. It is also the second time that the New Zealand filmmaker has competed for the title of best director (the first time for the piano Lesson in 1968). A novelty for a woman in the history of the prestigious ceremony.

Two weeks earlier, his western was sacred to the Bafta awards, in London. Before that, she was also in March at the Directors Guild of America, and last January at the golden balloons. In July 2021 it won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Is Jane Campion about to win her Grand Slam? Critics suggest yes.

Since the film went online on Netflix in December, the press has been unanimous: the power of the dog is a “Fascinating” masterpiece, according to Break freeoffers Benedict Cumberbatch “probably his best role.” teleramaHe sums it up in one word: “masterful”.

A “boring” movie?

Inspired by a homonymous novel by Thomas Savage, its story takes place on a ranch in Montana at the beginning of the 20th century, the largest in this American state. We follow the life of its owners, two brothers, whose course will be turned upside down when the new wife of one of the two men and her son, the result of a previous marriage, arrive.

Furious at this move, the brother-in-law begins to harass the newcomer and her son, a boy altogether more delicate than the local cowboys, creating a suffocating climate and an unbearable atmosphere in this place lost in the middle of the desert landscapes.

As in France, the toxic drama against masculinity has had little effect abroad. For him Washington Post, the filmmaker shows us once again “her ability to bring hidden truths to light and make us see what was hidden under our noses from the beginning”. If it is one of the director’s most successful films, according to one of the film critics of the guardian, the power of the dog brilliantly renews the western genre, according to a liberating story, according to the New York Times.

On HuffPost, opinions are more varied. Despite its magnificent scenery and photography, her brilliant performance (Kirsten Dunst is also an Oscar nominee), her important speech (although we can’t gauge it further), the film doesn’t surprise us too much. The horse ride is long and slow, really very slow. A point of view shared by many viewers.

“I am sorry to inform you that ‘The Power of the Dog’ sucks, is boring, slow and has no plot.”

“This is how people introduced ‘The Power of the Dog’: ‘We want to do something a little gay, but incredibly boring.'”

leave hungry

Some wonder about the ending, which they have not understood. This is what has led to many sites, such as assignedthe New York Times, pop sugar and others, to give their own explanation. Others point to the intellectual nature of the film. “Boring, stunning, pretentious. You know, the typical award-winning movie,” wrote a commenter on Rotten Tomatoes, the US equivalent of CriticalSense.

Film critics favourite, the power of the dog obviously it did not find universal favor with the public. Contrast questions. Does the movie really deserve so much praise?

According to the journalist Times Jonathan Dean, the availability of the feature film on Netflix allowed it to be seen by an audience that would not have spontaneously gone to the cinema to see it. According to him, this is not a so-called “mainstream” movie. “That’s why people find it boring,” he wrote on Twitter.

Do you need the eyes of a film critic to appreciate the power of the dog? In any case, this requires knowing your director a bit. Jane Campion is an acclaimed filmmaker. César for best foreign film, Oscar for best screenplay, Grand Jury Prize in Venice… Distinctions, she had them. One of them has marked the history of cinema: it is the Palme d’Or. The 67-year-old director received it in 1993 for her adaptation of Jane Mander’s novel, the piano Lesson.

The art of suggestion

She has long been known for her feminist perspective and complex female characters. At the head of the Cannes Film Festival jury in 2014, the filmmaker had set the tone for her presidency from the first press conference. “Of 1,800 films presented to the jury, only 7% were made by women,” she denounced, before adding in an interview with the guardian that “too often men tend to trust each other.” According to her, “there would be many more stories in the world if women made more movies.”

These words from yesterday echo today the demands that followed the #MeToo movement, in particular those for a questioning of the high patronage of men in all fields.

With the power of the dog, Jane Campion continues this effort. And this, all in nuances. Not everything is black or white. She shows that we can be mysteries to ourselves, remember the New York Times. Inside the piano Lesson, for example, her heroine discovers a sexual liberation, yes, but with her captor. Inside in the cutMeg Ryan finds herself attracted to a cop she suspects of committing the murders he’s investigating.

Jane Campion tells no truths. Her films often fall into a suspended ending, as in portrait of a woman Where the power of the dog. For many, she has mastered the art of suggestion. To the delight of some. Much to the chagrin of others.

See also in The HuffPost: Benedict Cumberbatch expresses his support for the Russian people “who oppose the idiocy of their leader”


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