Benedict Cumberbatch Is a Cruel Cowboy in Jane Campion's Power of the Dog Trailer: Watch

The Power of the Dog starring Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Benedict Cumberbatch premieres Dec. 1 on Netflix

Benedict Cumberbatch is teaming up with esteemed director Jane Campion for his latest film, and Netflix just gave fans a peek with the very first full trailer for The Power of the Dog.

Cumberbatch, 45, stars as Phil Burbank, a rugged rancher who falls in love with Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), the son of a widow (Kirsten Dunst) who moved to his ranch. The upcoming western marks Campion's first film since Bright Star, which she directed in 2008.

In the new trailer for the film released Thursday, Phil grapples with his feelings for Peter by bullying the young man. In one scene, Phil wonders "what little lady" made a bunch of paper flowers he holds in his hand, and then burns the petals in front of Peter after he learns the boy created them.

He later lets Peter ride a horse in the open, knowing he isn't ready, and laughs as he falls off the animal and onto the ground below.

The Power of the Dog, which is based on Thomas Savage's 1967 novel of the same name, takes place in Montana in 1925, where Phil and his brother, George (Jesse Plemons), make a living as wealthy ranchers. When the brothers meet Rose (Dunst) at her restaurant one day, George is immediately smitten and marries her not long after their first encounter, but Phil has very different feelings for her and her son.

the power of the dog
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog. KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX

Netflix's official description of the film reads, in part, "As Phil swings between fury and cunning, his taunting of Rose takes an eerie form … His mockery of her son is more overt, amplified by the cheering of Phil's cowhand disciples. Then Phil appears to take the boy under his wing. Is this latest gesture a softening that leaves Phil exposed, or a plot twisting further into menace?"

Cumberbatch, who previously played a gay character in 2014's The Imitation Game, defended his casting as Phil in The Power of the Dog, saying at the Telluride Film Festival in September, "I feel very sensitive about representation, diversity, and inclusion," per IndieWire.

Speaking of his character, Cumberbatch told reporters at the New York Film Festival last month that Phil was twisted "into this sort of form of masculine toxicity" after he "had this burning love affair in his youth, which wasn't tolerated [or] allowed."

the power of the dog
Cross City Films Limited/Courtesy of Netflix

He added that his character projected "hate on the world, and for the world, hate on him, and I think his sense of loneliness is exacerbated by that and his sense of jealousy."

The film also stars Thomasin McKenzie as Lola, Genevieve Lemon as Mrs. Lewis, Keith Carradine as Governor Edward, Frances Conroy as Old Lady, Peter Carroll as Old Gent, and Adam Beach as Edward Nappo

The Power of the Dog premieres Dec. 1 on Netflix.

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