Throwback Thursday: Legends of the Fall (1994)

There is a unique and complicated relationship between siblings. You may love one another, but that does not mean that you always get along or agree.

The 1994 movie, Legends of the Fall is the story of the three Ludlow brothers: Tristan (Brad Pitt), Alfred (Aidan Quinn), and Samuel (Henry Thomas). Led by their father, Colonel William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins), they live in the wilds of Montana in the early 20th century.

After Samuel is killed in World War I, the dynamic between Tristan and Alfred changes. They both fall in love with Susannah (Julia Ormond), Henry’s fiance. As they compete for her heart and their future, their formerly tight bond starts to fray.

Nearly 30 years on, it has become a modern classic. It is beautifully shot and tells the story of an ordinary family living through extraordinary times. While I appreciate the humanity of the Native American characters (who in the past have only been shown as 2D stereotypes), I dislike the portrayal of Susannah.

As usual, her sole role is that of the love interest and the reason for the division of the male characters. She does not have any agency or any other reason for existing within this narrative. Which is a shame, because Ormond has proven herself as a capable actress.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

The Power of the Dog Movie Review

Toxic masculinity represents a time in human history in which men were expected to be men. There was little room for feelings or expressing themselves in an open or healthy manner.

The 2021 Netflix film, The Power of the Dog, is based on the book of the same name by Thomas Savage. In Montana in 1925, brothers Phil and George Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons) have taken over the running of the family ranch. Phil is a man’s man in every sense of the word, George is considerate and emotionally open.

On the road to the market, they eat at a restaurant owned by Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst) and her teenage son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Rose is a widow who has been forced to change her life to support herself and Peter after the abrupt passing of her late husband. Phil’s callous and cruel jokes drive both mother and son to tears. George tries to make up for his brother’s actions, which turns into a marriage proposal. When Rose and Peter enter Phil’s orbit as his sister-in-law and nephew, this new reality turns his world upside down. Taking the boy under his wing, Phil swings between mocking Peter and teaching him how to run a ranch.

The question is, has Phil started to change, or is this a ploy to continue his brutish ways?

This is supposed to be one of the best movies of 2021. Whatever it is that made this film special, I don’t see it.

It has nothing to do with the performers or the story itself. Director and co-screenwriter Jane Campion does what she does best. Cumberbatch once again proves that he is one of the most versatile actors in the business. Plemmons and Dunst are well cast for their roles and the perfect ying to Cumerbatch’s yang. Smit-McPhee is a young actor who solely based on his one role, has a bright future. The problem is that I was on the verge of being bored and wondering why I should care about these characters.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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