The Power of the Dog is a psalm from the Bible which in the new King James version reads, “Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog.” Words that become clear in the storyline of this great film that speaks to us of uncontrollable impulses capable of our destruction, but best not to give too much away here and allow viewers to discover what happens for themselves, taking it step by step.

The idea isn’t to justify anything, but simply to discuss a movie we love, recently enthroned at this year’s Golden Globes and which has been the subject of discussion in all the major film forums since the journey began at the Venice Festival where it was presented and awarded, causing a sensation and dazzling critics.

For me, a good movie isn’t one that captivates your attention the first time you see it, it’s one that, after the first initial shock, you watch again, savoring details that escaped you at the first viewing, and when you finish, you’re already thinking of watching it again because you know it’s made with only the finest elements, like those timeless classics we tirelessly return to over and over again.

To begin with, the film is made by New Zealand’s Jane Campion, with all the baggage that entails, complete with the reappearance of a piano in one of the film’s most exceptional moments featuring the boxing match between two of the protagonists. The director of the unforgettable The Piano, and only woman to win the Palme d’Or before the arrival of Titane, once again swathes us in a blanket of emotions, moving us, as she doctors the landscape of New Zealand, conjuring up the United States and Montana at the beginning of the 20th century. The story is a veritable arm-wrestling match, a twisted power game, a game of chess between four characters as the servants look on. Keep your eyes peeled for Thomasin McKenzie, star of Last Night in Soho and I was amazed to learn that “the widow”, Rose, played by the always excellent Kirsten Dunst, and the good-natured brother she marries, played by Jesse Simons who for some reason has always reminded me of a slightly more rotund and acned relative of Matt Damon, are actually a couple in real life. What a surprise that was! The film projects a stellar, and rising Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee, prodigious in the role of the quiet and anxious teenager who looks as out of place on the ranch as a nun at a rave, with a look that can be very as clean-cut as it can be shifty.

The cover of the prestigious and cinematic bible for many, Variety magazine unequivocally calls it “The best picture of the year”. Starring an immense Benedict Cumberbatch who deserves all the praise showered upon him delivering a superb performance. He owns the protagonist, Phil Burbank, a man dying inside and whose self-loathing leads him to make everyone else’s life hell. The Englishman, with all his savvy, delivers a recital, in what is unquestionably one of his greatest ever performances in the role of irate cowboy. Rumor has it that he prepared for the part so thoroughly, to the point that he even stopped showering and refused to talk to Kirsten Dunst just so he could appear dirtier and more unpleasant in her eyes.

Jane Campion shoots with a surgical attention to detail this tale of toxic masculinity, something she does so very well, but there’s much more to unpack here, a vast ocean in the background of this psychological western that leaves us speechless, complete with an ending through which the ghost of Psycho and Anthony Perkins walks. Who’s good and who’s bad is so easy to decide, it could be likened to a reversible liner.

The Power of the Dog possesses an undeniable capacity to seduce audiences, while arousing our curiosity to immediately read Thomas Savage’s book on which it’s based, the great novel of the American West sitting on the library shelf, earmarked for when we might give it a chance. An author who also seems to have had a hard time being himself and exit the closet without repressing his sexuality, which might make you think he vented much of his own personal experience, surely one of great torment, in the story and its protagonist.

So, for all of these reasons, and the many more you’ll discover on viewing, this Netflix movie, The Power of the Dog is, at least for me, the movie of the year and one you shouldn’t miss but be warned, it bites hard.

Conxita Casanovas. Journalist specializing in film, works at RTVE. Accumulate a lot of experience. She has toured the most important festivals and won important prizes but he retains the enthusiasm and passion of the first day. She directs the ‘Va de cine’ program, which already has 37 seasons on the air in R4 (Sundays from 14h to 15h), a space that has a version in Spanish on R5 (Saturday 11.35h) for all of Spain. Current Director in addition to the BCN Film Fest.