‘Killers Of The Flower Moon’ Is A Harrowing Drama That Reaffirms Martin Scorsese’s Prowess – Review
By Chalice Williams
Before you reach the film’s premise, you already know you are in for a treat when you see Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Robert De Niro attached to a new project. Once that grabs your attention, you realize you are about to engage with a movie that is based on harrowing true events, a story long overdue its cinematic retelling, told by one of the masters.
Scorsese teams up with Eric Roth to write Killers of the Flower Moon based on David Grann’s best-selling book of the same title. It stars DiCaprio, De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Tantoo Cardinal, Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, Jillian Dion, Tatanka Means, and William Belleau. With this cast before him, Scorsese beautifully bears all, even when the subject matter is distressing. To touch the events of the Osage murders from the 1920s means one must rightfully do it justice. His storytelling was unfiltered, proving he wasn’t concerned with possibly offending white males like himself.
At the center of this Western dramatic crime is a subtle love story between Ernest (DiCaprio) and Mollie (Gladstone). Their chemistry is unique in that it isn’t so loud and obvious. Instead, how they hold one another and gaze into each other’s eyes is enough to display their love. If you didn’t know the story before watching, you’d genuinely believe their story would go on to be one of those with a happy ending. The chemistry between the two has you internally rooting for them, even after you realize that Ernest is no good for Mollie. While standing beside big wigs like DiCaprio and De Niro, the absolute powerhouse of Killers of the Flower Moon is Gladstone. She delivers an Oscar-worthy performance by evoking such pain and emotion so effortlessly. It never feels forced, and she has a way of making you feel the hurt and frustration of the Osage people. While her family is picked off one by one, she stands firm in her mission to seek justice. Then, we are introduced to the beginning days of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spearheaded by Tom White (Plemmons).
Another stellar performance worth noting is that of Mollie’s sister, Anna, played by Cara Jade Myers. She embodied the role of the younger sister who’s a reckless, carefree, drunk mess that you know will land herself in some trouble. She’s a tough badass who easily becomes an instant crowd favorite. What happens to Anna will make viewers burn with anger.
Despite being a great story with intense visuals to match, a solid half an hour of film could have been cut. The vivid details and accounts of what took place during the murders were indeed necessary. The nature of how graphic the acts of violence towards the Osage people needed to be on full display for the viewer to grasp the evil of this true story. With that said, some scenes with dialogue were unnecessary as they did little to contribute to the story at hand. When crafting a movie with a long runtime, not losing the audience’s focus should be considered. Some scenes may need to be sacrificed in order to get a more focused viewer. You don’t want people to leave the theater saying, “Wow, that was too long.” All that hard work on such a beautiful story would go to waste if that’s all the average viewer takes away. Luckily for Scorsese, this hopefully won’t be the case as his target audience is well aware of his longer runtimes. I purposely chose an afternoon showtime to avoid being tired and fidgety throughout the film. I’d also advise folks to use the bathroom before taking a seat for this three-and-a-half-hour-long film.
Scorsese has a solid gem on his hands due to his dedication to telling the truth in its entirety and not sugarcoating reality. It’s not every day a director tells the story of white men depicted in a negative light, such as we see here. Killers of the Flower Moon perfectly depicts how they set out to take over the land where oil was discovered and manipulated and killed the Osage members that stood between them and a massive cash grab. Everything in between was well-executed, thanks to the performances of such a fantastic cast.