Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the lead in Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog, has addressed criticism of the film from actor Sam Elliott.

After The Power Of The Dog received some rather strongly worded criticism from actor Sam Elliott last week, Benedict Cumberbatch has come to the film’s defence. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cumberbatch spoke at a BAFTA Film Sessions panel when he addressed the comments.

Elliott appeared on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast last week when he compared the cowboys in Campion’s film to Chippendale dancers and called the movie “a piece of shit”. He also took issue with the western’s LGBTQ+ themes and the general depiction of the ‘Wild West’. “What the fuck does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American West?”, he said.

During the panel, Cumberbatch said “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 without meaning to stir up the ashes of that. I don’t want to get into the details of it … but somebody really took offense to — I haven’t heard it so it’s unfair for me to comment in detail on it — to the West being portrayed in this way. And beyond that reaction — that sort of denial that anybody could have any other than a hetero-normative existence because of what they do for a living or where they’re born, there’s also a massive intolerance within the world at large towards homosexuality still, towards an acceptance of the other, of any kind of difference, and no more so I guess than in this prism of conformity of what’s expected of a man in the Western archetype mold of masculinity. So I think to deconstruct that through Phil, to look at that, it’s not a history lesson.”

Elsewhere, the film is garnering critical acclaim for its representation of repressed sexuality and toxic masculinity. It’s nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Cumberbatch, and Best Picture.

The Power Of The Dog is available to watch on Netflix.

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