2009’s Bright Star was the last time we saw a feature film from Oscar winner Campion, even though she was one of the driving forces behind both seasons of acclaimed series Top of the Lake.
She has teamed up with the TV series’ BBC and See-Saw Films to direct an adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel The Power of the Dog, which is to star Benedict Cumberbatch and Elisabeth Moss.
“The Power of the Dog is a sublime novel that deserves a life on the big screen,” said Campion in a statement ahead of the Cannes Film Festival, where the project will be shopped around the world. “I couldn’t stop thinking about the story, it really haunted me. The themes of masculinity, nostalgia and betrayal are an intoxicating mix. It’s also rare to find a story where the themes, the plot and the characters build tension as they reveal each other and even the end is satisfying and unexpected. It will be the first time I’ve worked with a male lead, which is exciting. Phil is a charismatic and complex character who declares war on his brother’s new wife and her teenage son.”
Cumberbatch plays Phil in ‘a chilling story of desire, control and revenge with a sting in the tail that lingers long after it reaches its electrifying conclusion… Wealthy Montana brothers Phil and George Burbank are two sides of one coin. Phil is graceful, brilliant and cruel where George is stolid, fastidious and gentle. Together they are joint owners of the biggest ranch in their Montana valley. It is a place where men are still men, the rapidly modernising 20th century is kept at bay and where the figure of Bronco Henry, the greatest cowboy Phil ever knew, is revered. When George secretly marries local widow Rose (Moss), a shocked and angry Phil wages a sadistic, relentless war to destroy her entirely using her effeminate son Peter as a pawn.’
“Working with Jane is an extraordinary experience for producers. Having completed two series of ‘Top of the Lake’ with her, The Power of the Dog is an incredibly exciting move, seeing her delve into a complex and utterly gripping psychological drama that explores the masculinity of the American west in a fresh way. This story is perfect material for the microscope Jane brings to the human condition, and for her unique voice,” stated See-Saw Films’ Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, who are producing along with Tanya Seghatchian of Bright Star (Cold War), BBC Films, and Roger Frappier of Max Films (Jesus of Montreal), who optioned the source novel.