Based on the 1967 namesake novel by Thomas Savage, writer-director Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ is a western drama film that follows Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Burbank (Jesse Plemons), who are brothers and wealthy ranchers. Their lives suddenly change when George marries Rose (Kirsten Dunst), a widow with a teenage son.
Phil has always been abrasive and unnecessarily cruel toward his brother. Believing that Rose has wed George for money, Phil turns his vicious fury and mockery toward her and her son Peter, driving the former to alcoholism. If you watched the movie and loved it, here is a list of recommendations for you. You can watch most of these movies similar to ‘The Power of the Dog’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
7. Meek’s Cutoff (2010)
Director Kelly Reichardt’s ‘Meek Cutoff’ is a Revisionist Western film set in the 19th century. It follows a group of settlers lost in the Oregon High Desert. After concluding that their guide Stephen Meek is not that knowledgeable about the area, the settlers take a native captive and demand to be led to a water source. Both Meek and Phil represent toxic masculinity. And just as Peter in ‘The Power of the Dog,’ the women in ‘Meek Cutoff’ take control of their destiny.
6. Logan (2017)
While ‘Logan’ is a superhero film, it’s brimming with subverted Western themes. The story follows a grizzled Wolverine whose healing abilities have rapidly declined. It has been 25 years since the last mutant was born. Professor Charles Xavier is alive but has dementia and suffers from terrible seizures. In this dystopic world, Logan finds a girl named Laura, who has the same mutant powers as him. Like Phil, Logan is somewhat of an antithesis to a traditional Western hero. He is broken, tired, and often can’t even protect himself.
5. No Country for Old Men (2007)
‘No Country for Old Man’ is a neo-Western film that revolves around opportunist Llewelyn Moss, hitman Anton Chigurh, and lawman Ed Tom Bell. After taking $2 million from the scene of a drug-related shootout, Moss goes on the run, with Chigurh and Bell on his trail. The film is based on Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 namesake novel. Like in ‘The Power of the Dog,’ ‘No Country for Old Man’ depicts the devolution of traditional Western ideals. Both films also severely criticize the said ideals, especially those related to masculinity.
4. Django Unchained (2012)
Writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ is yet another example of a Revisionist Western film. It centers around Django, a former slave, who sets on a journey of violence and revenge to rescue his wife, Broomhilda von Shaft, from the vicious plantation owner Calvin J. Candie. Helping him is his mentor and friend Dr. King Schultz.
Like in ‘The Power of the Dog,’ the dynamics of a conventional Western have been turned on their heads in ‘Django Unchained. In both films, the righteous power to change the world has been given to the disenfranchised, while the privileged serves as the villain.
3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Based on the 1983 historical fiction novel of the same name by Ron Hansen, ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ is a criminally underrated film that offers a semi-fictionalized account of the eponymous murder.
Both ‘The Power of the Dog’ and ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ deconstruct the myth of the Western hero through their respective protagonists. Moreover, Peter and Robert Ford have very similar toxic relationships with Phil and Jesse James, respectively, and they lead to the same fatal conclusion.
2. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Director Ang Lee’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is a Neo-Western romantic drama film based on a 1997 namesake short story. It follows cowboys Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist. Their emotional and sexual relationship initially develops while they work together as sheepherders on Brokeback Mountain and goes on to affect the rest of their lives.
Same-sex relationships are rarely depicted in the hyper-masculinity-driven Western genre. ‘The Power of the Dog’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain’ are glowing exceptions. It’s heavily hinted in the former film that Phil’s relationship with his mentor “Bronco” Henry was both sexual and romantic.
1. The Revenant (2015)
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, ‘The Revenant’ follows Hugh Glass, a real-life frontiersman, fur trapper, explorer, and businessman. After his son is killed and he is left for dead, Glass embarks on a path of vengeance against the man responsible.
Like ‘The Power of the Dog,’ ‘The Revenant’ is the cinematic adaptation of a novel (‘The Revenant’ by Michael Punke) and a breathtakingly beautiful film. Both movies are Revisionist Westerns as neither Phil (or Peter) nor Glass can be categorized as an ideal hero; Phil’s actions are driven by his sexual repression, while Glass is fuelled by his desire for revenge.
Read More: Where Was The Power of the Dog Filmed?