Set on a ranch in mid-1920s Montana, Jane Campion’s (The Piano, MVFF 1994) first Western is a rich story of longing, love, and betrayal. Beautifully shot, the expansiveness of the outer landscape is a counterpoint to the inner landscapes of her characters, an undercurrent of tension, suppressed feelings, and brooding eroticism lying just beneath the surface. In a striking performance, Benedict Cumberbatch is a powerful, charismatic, very physical presence throughout the film as Phil, a well-heeled rancher, who’s a consummate bully, a man of the land, as macho as he is cultured. Phil co-owns the family property with his stoic and upright brother George (Jesse Plemons). When George brings home a wife, the widowed Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Phil’s finely-controlled world is thrown out of kilter. Campion brings her extraordinary artist’s eye and sensibility to her adaptation of Thomas Savage’s novel, with an uncanny ability to peer beneath the surface of human behavior and reveal both mind and heart. She again proves herself one of the most original and compelling filmmakers today. Director: Jane Campion (UK/Australia/US/Canada/New Zealand 2021) 125 min.
MVFF44 Official Selection | Jane Campion Tribute + Mind the Gap Award