Kirsten Dunst’s Role in The Power of The Dog Explained

Netflix’s The Power of The Dog is shaping up to be the frontrunner is the Oscars 2022 and has already gathered over 21 Best Picture Awards. It has received tremendous acclaim from the critics and viewers alike because of the sheer artistry and powerful performances in the film. One such incredible performance was by Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman Trilogy), which puts her among the greats of the industry.

Kirsten Dunst’s Rose Gordon

While Benedict Cumberbatch’s Phil and Kodi Smit’s Peter were the driving force of the film, it was actually Rose Gordon around whom the film revolved. Everything that happens in this groundbreaking western drama is about Dunst’s character. Though for the most part, she played the damsel in distress but that’s what The Power of The Dog was about.

The main story began when Phil’s brother George marries the widower Rose and brings her home. Phil couldn’t the accept fact that someone came between the bond shared by him and his brother. Also, he perceived that Rose only married him for his money. Phil’s jealousy towards Rose made him this unsympathetic character who’d go out of his ways to psychologically torment her. On the other hand, all Rose wanted was acceptance in this new family of hers.

Phil continued to taunt her and torment her about her musical skills and would often torment her son Peter for his effeminate ways. As a result, Rose, who was earlier opposed to drinking, decided to booze her worries off. To add to her misery, Phil began getting close to her son and developed a bond with him. She did not approve of that because she understood his motives and there was nothing, she could do about it.

Rose’s Role in Phil’s Downfall

What started as Phil’s attempt to further torment Rose, developed into a genuine bond. Phil started to develop a liking towards Peter and promised him a rope/lasso before he leaves for his education. This is where Rose came out of her role as damsel in distress and chose to do something powerful. She gave away all the cow hides Phil was saving to some Indians in exchange for some mittens.

As expected, Phil blew into a fit of rage but Peter managed to calm him down by offering some hide he had collected from a (anthrax infected) dead animal. During one of the expeditions Phil had suffered a minor wound and upon using that hide, the wound was infected, and he died of Anthrax poisoning. Peter’s educated and subtle way of killing Phil attracted no one’s attention. So basically, he succeeded in removing the tormentor away from her mother’s life.

In the final scene it was shown that Rose had recovered from her alcohol addiction and was now seen happy with the man she loved. Her tormentor had met his end, her lover was now all hers, and her son was free of Phil’s sinister grasp as well. So, Dunst’s character was the backbone of this incredible film. Also, she performed it so wonderfully that everyone could empathize with her. And just like Peter, viewers gave a subtle smirk as well after knowing that her tormentor has been put away forever.

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