Based on David Grann’s book of the same name, ‘Killers of The Flower Moon’ is written for the screen and directed by the renowned Martin Scorsese and stars his usual duo of Leonardo Dicaprio and Robert De Niro with newcomer Lily Gladstone. The trio delivers stellar performances but Lily Gladstone makes the biggest mark and could be a frontrunner for best actress at next year’s Academy Awards.
The film takes place in 1920s Oklahoma, where the Osage tribe uncovered oil in their land and became very wealthy. However, despite the immense period of success the Osage are living through, murder is becoming rampant in the society and people are looking for answers as to who is committing them and why.
Dicaprio’s character Ernest Burkhart is a complicated man who has ties to both his uncle and wife and their differences have a toll on his well-being and sanity. De Niro’s menacing and vindictive William Hale is one of the best-written characters in cinematic history as his vile, putrid behavior makes you want to loathe him and hope for the worst for him. Gladstone’s Mollie Burkhart is a silver-screen darling, a woman who captures the true essence of what love and betrayal are as her warm nature is taken advantage of and made into a profit.
Martin Scorsese balances the right amount of context and drama in this picture as the dramatic scenes don’t overshadow the very real yet visceral backdrop of Osage nationland. His innovative style for an 80-year-old is surprising and is an indicative sign of the master as he seeks to improve and build upon the films previously such as The Departed and The Irishman.
Despite the genius of Martin Scorsese, his team helped bring the picture to life as well. Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto conveys a true depiction of 20s Oklahoma and costume designer Jacqueline West’s ensemble of accurate 1920s clothing adds authenticity and respect to the people whose story is being told. Editor Thelma Schoonmaker should get the most praise for presenting a 3-and-a-half-hour film in a snappy but dense fashion which makes the time feel invisible during the tense moments in the film.
The negative flaws in the film could be the enormous runtime Scorsese chose and this could deter folk from going to the theatres and just watching on Apple TV+ instead. Also, for those who plan to watch this, the story is sometimes deeply saddening so viewers ought to be aware of that. Another flaw of the film is that the story is told from the perspective of Ernest and not Mollie. This is somewhat of an issue as the story about native american tragedies is once again a film examining the viewpoint of the oppressor and not the oppressed.
Overall, ‘despite the few flaws mentioned, ‘Killers of The Flower Moon’ is once again another Martin Scorsese masterpiece but not the pinnacle of career so far. The film does examine the themes of injustice, greed and truth very closely and the story is woven very well.
Available in theatres October 20th and on Apple TV+ too.