Benedict Cumberbatch has responded to criticism of Jane Campion’s Oscar-nominated film The Power Of The Dog, calling it “very odd”.
Cumberbatch was referencing criticism of the film from Sam Elliott, who recently referred to the film as a “piece of shit”.
Speaking as part of BAFTA’s Film Sessions on Friday (March 4), Cumberbatch discussed why it’s necessary to portray characters like Phil Burbank, who he plays in the movie, in order to “look under the hood” of these type of characters and “see what their struggle is and why that’s there in the first place”.
Going on to reference Elliott’s criticism directly, he added (via Digital Spy): “I’m trying very hard not to say anything about a very odd reaction that happened the other day on a radio podcast over here.
He added that he didn’t want to “stir over the ashes” of the comment, as “I haven’t heard it so it’s unfair for me to comment in detail on it,” but that “someone really took offence to the West being portrayed in this way.”
Cumberbatch then went back to his character in the film: “These people still exist in our world. Whether it’s on our doorstep or whether it’s down the road or whether it’s someone we meet in a bar or pub or on the sports field, there is aggression and anger and frustration and an inability to control or know who you are in that moment that causes damage to that person and, as we know, damage to those around them.
“There’s no harm in looking at a character to get to the root causes of that. This is a very specific case of repression, but also due to an intolerance for that true identity that Phil is that he can’t fully be.”
He concluded: “The more we look under the hood of toxic masculinity and try to discover the root causes of it, the bigger chances we have of dealing with it when it arises with our children.”
In his comments of the film, Elliott criticised director Jane Campion’s interpretation of the American west.
Describing her as “a brilliant director” before making his point, Elliott said: “What the fuck does this women from down there [New Zealand] know about the American west? Why the fuck did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana? And say this is the way it was? That fucking rubbed me the wrong way.”
The Power Of The Dog follows charismatic rancher Phil Burbank (Cumberbatch), who torments his younger brother George (Jesse Plemons) when George brings home his new wife Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst).