REVIEW: Killers Of The Flower Moon By Martin Scorsese

Scorsese’s latest epic, Killers of the Flower Moon, is everything you’d expect from the director: passionate, gorgeous, and horrific. However, in other ways, it carries on Martin Scorsese’s profound inquiry into the causes of American violence.

Killers of the Flower Moon
REVIEW For The Killers Of The Flower Moon

5/5 Killers Of The Flower Moon

This time, Osage County serves as the setting. It is a forgotten region of Oklahoma where the early 20th century oil discovery made the Osage Native Americans the world’s richest people in terms of per capita wealth. Their white neighbors are not happy about this, and under the charismatic leadership of cattle tycoon William “King” Hale (a gorgeously evil Robert De Niro, sporting ominous driving goggles), they begin a systematic campaign of subterfuge-based genocide. The Osage have been discovered shot, poisoned, or blown up one by one over a long period of time, leaving local investigators frequently perplexed.

Hale uses his nephew, the gullible doughboy Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio), a recent veteran of the war, to woo and marry Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone), the heiress to a sizeable portion of the Osage fortune. This is one of Hale’s longer games. Even though Ernest is passionate about the mission and even starts to fall for Mollie, he still helps his uncle murder Mollie’s immediate family.

REVIEW: Killers Of The Flower Moon By Martin Scorsese
Source: Killers Of The Flower Moon 2023

With one significant exception, the movie is based on David Grann’s masterful 2017 history. Scorsese and DiCaprio decided they didn’t want to make another white savior story; instead, they wanted to get to the heart of the story, whereas Grann focused on the role of the newly established FBI and Texan ranger Tom White in bringing Hale to justice. They focus on Ernest as a result, who is torn between his love for the woman and his dread of his evil uncle.

It could be argued that this isn’t a material advancement. Gladstone (perhaps best known for her performances in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women) plays Mollie with a sly, subtle humor that gradually curdles into implacable hatred. The Osage are depicted as a quiet people who detest the white people’s constant “blackbird chatter.” She does, however, spend a good deal of the movie suffering in silence as the focus is on Ernest’s repugnant moral cowardice. Among his many accomplishments, screenwriter Eric Roth is perhaps best known for his work on the film Forrest Gump; similarly dim as DiCaprio’s Ernest, the character hardly stands up to the demands of the story.

REVIEW: Killers Of The Flower Moon By Martin Scorsese
Source: Killers Of The Flower Moon 2023

The cast is very large. The inclusion of Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Jack White among the supporting cast will delight readers, but the majority of the Native American characters are corpses who meet their demise in ever-more-gruesome ways.

The movie is exquisitely executed and occasionally startlingly innovative with regard to the Osage rites. But the inability to give the Osage a voice feels like a huge missed opportunity. However, there is a lot to like about this deep, fascinating, horrifying, yet compassionate movie. At the age of 80, Martin Scorsese is still at the top of his game, working with his usual cast of DiCaprio and De Niro.

Overall I really loved this movie. and best of 2023 or decade.

related: Killers Of The Flower Moon Parents Guide

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