Montana, 1925. It has been 25 years since the Burbank brothers organized their first cattle herd.
These two men are only brothers by name: Phil (Cumberbatch) wears spurs and spurs and works the meadows with the people at work. He would take a knife and castrate a bull without gloves. He likes to be dirty and likes to stay dirty.
It was brass, strong, rough, and smelled ripe like a barn floor. He takes the banjo while talking through the door to George (Plemons), who is in the tub. Phil called him “fat” affectionately, but not affectionately. George was quiet, discreet, tidy, preferring to wear a bow tie and comb his hair.
They owned the ranch and all the cattle and the big house in the country – a house big enough for both of them because the bar bank had a lot of money. But strangely, they still share a bedroom, and a bedside table separates their thin double beds.
Phil and George take their hands on a farm in a nearby small town for food and company from the ladies and spend the night at the inn. They eat at the Red Mill, where Rose (Dunst) is roasting chicken and her son Peter is waiting for them.
Peter is what you would call a freak duck. She was thin as a pole, busy making paper flowers and speaking in a whisper. Phil abuses him viciously and uses one of the paper flowers to light his cigarette.
Peter went through the back door and flew a hooligan. George sat quietly while all the other men came out, hearing Rose crying in the kitchen and comforting her. The next day she helped him with breakfast. Soon they were married, and he moved to the excellent estate. The Musshed brothers and Peter went to school to become a surgeon.
Rose gives George a dance lesson in front of a rugged mountain postcard:
While Phil grabs a pen and paper to talk to his parents, tell them that George is contacting a “suicide widow”. Now Phil had to sleep alone in this room, and he goes to the barn and beats his horse when he doesn’t have to.
Phil wasn’t good at – well, he wasn’t good at anything. Anything but riding horses and tying cattle to humans, e.g. He ventured into a nearby forest and crawled through the hay of the secret forest to his shelter, a place by the lake where he could undress and smear the mud, swim and bathe.
George buys Rose a grand piano and urges her to play for it, though he says he only knows the “songs” he learned playing in the “pit movies”.
The pressure is smooth, but still the pressure. Phil towered over the room and played his banjo as he struggled through the melody, distracting him and belittling him wordlessly. He started drinking until he felt sick, and George was friendly but cold and aloof. Soon Peter will finish school for the summer and move to a place where he is unlikely to be accepted or accepted. And we wonder if Campion set up chess pieces to play the game or if it will break the board.
I sit in Cumberbatch’s captivity as he creeps from cruelty to semi-redemptive sensibility, all the while maintaining the veil of threat that keeps his people opaque. In the final third of the film, his interactions with Smith-McPhee. Who shows up here is a rich mix of setting, performance, material, and direction that feels rare and distinctive.
So what’s Phil’s loss? He is magnetic and charismatic:
But the evil and divisive character are at the heart of a significant ensemble piece: his co-dependency with George. His rivalry with Rose. His antagonism with Peter. His friend with his hands on the farm.
A temple in the warehouse commemorates a man named Bronco Henry, who has been dead for more than two decades with his saddle and spurs exposed.
Phil only respects the memory of Bronco Henry. Bronco Henry Bronco Henry Bronco Henry. Phil took off the saddle and rubbed it sensually from time to time. He hugs her. Broncho. Henry.
The arrival of old Burbanks (France Conroy and Peter Carroll) for dinner with the governor (David Carradine) brings about Phil’s hostile rejection of his family’s high family status and education. “So he cursed cattle in Greek or Latin?”
The governor jokes, a rare moment when Phil doesn’t have complete control over the tone and history of the ranch, and when it does, part of the truth is revealed – his insecurities, his vulnerability, his true self. He blows dinner. George wanted her to take a shower, and that wouldn’t happen. “Tell the truth – I smell and I love it,” growled Cumberbatch.