The New Zealand director signs a western in the form of a closed door, awarded in Venice, and broadcast on Netflix on December 1.
First woman to win a Palme d’Or at Cannes, New Zealand director Jane Campion questions male stereotypes in The Power of the Dog, a stifling camera in a cowboy world, uploaded Wednesday to Netflix.
The film, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, won one of the main awards in Venice (Golden Lion for Best Director) but is not released in theaters in France, where only subscribers to the American platform will be able to view it. .
Adapted from the eponymous novel by Thomas Savage (published in 1967, released in France under the name The power of the dog), he takes the viewer to a ranch in Montana at the start of the 20th century. The life of hardened bachelor Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) is turned upside down by the arrival of his brother George’s new wife, Rose (Kirsten Dunst), and the latter’s son from a previous marriage.
Enraged by this change, he begins to harass the newcomer and her child, creating a toxic atmosphere and an unbearable tension in this place lost in the middle of almost deserted landscapes.
“In a way, it’s a closed door, and it’s almost like they’re on a small boat in the middle of an ocean. Because even though the scenery is grand, you feel isolated: it’s is immense and very lonely at the same time, especially for Rose “, analyzes Jane Campion, interviewed by AFP in Venice.
Society on the verge of implosion
With small touches, the director paints a picture of this corseted society on the brink of implosion, where strict morality dominates and where the place of women is still very small. Gradually, the “skeletons” of each of the characters come out of the closet, blurring the image that the protagonists give themselves.
“It is the portrait of an era, and some women might be slightly frustrated with the character of Rose, but at that time many women did not have so many choices”, recognizes Jane Campion, who directs for the first time in leading male roles.
The Piano Lesson, Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1993, “takes the point of view of women by exploring sensuality. This film takes more of the perspective of men,” she explains.