“Despicable.” It’s the one word that comes to mind when I think about both the characters in this movie and the movie itself. I have no idea what other critics are seeing in this movie, but this is an unbearably draggy slog with the most unlikeable characters in the history of cinema. I have no idea who to root for in this film since everyone is terrible, from the bullies to the victims. And getting to the point of any of it takes forever! Jane Campion approaches every scene with a somnambulist style and pace; I wanted to claw my eyes out. How anyone can find this at all-engrossing is completely beyond me.
I will admit that it’s pretty well acted. But none of the gravitas of the acting matters when the characters don’t work, and the pacing is entirely tedious. Every character in this film can be categorized as either idiotic or psychopathic. There doesn’t seem to be a grey area in between. You have someone who is unbearably mean and rude for the sake of being a terrible bully, and you have others who either choose to turn a blind eye to that bullying or are just unable to find any inner strength to combat it due to heightened insecurities. Forgive me for being callous here. It’s hard for me to sympathize with characters who don’t bother to find the strength to stand up for themselves and break as easily as some of the ones here do. I understand bullying is a serious issue, but the way the film portrays its effects on others is somewhat ridiculously, exaggeratedly over-the-top that I simply can’t find it within me to feel any sympathy for the bullied. Nor can I find any sort of sympathy for characters that openly choose to be rude and terrible for literally no real reasons. Who am I supposed to care about here? What am I supposed to care about here? The answer about what I ultimately did care about after 2 hours of torture was a resounding “Nothing!”
THE POWER OF THE DOG is once again proof that critics and the Academy will award something solely out of politics, or the allure of strong performances, without really considering whether or not a movie or its characters are actually compelling at all.
Stick this horrible film in the bloody dog house where it belongs.
THE POWER OF THE DOG will begin putting you to sleep on Netflix on November 17th.