Killers of the Flower Moon Review

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Movie: Killers of the Flower Moon

Production Companies: Apple TV+

Director: Martin Scorsese

Producers: Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio , Dan Friedkin

Scriptwriters: Eric Roth, Martin Scorsese

Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Goldstone

Release Date: 20th October 2023

Running Time: 206 minutes

Certificate: 15

Introduction: Martin Scorsese reunites, once again, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in this stone cold, slow burning masterpiece set in the Osage during the 1920s.

Synopsis: Based upon a true story, ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ accounts the real life events where white men plotted to rid the Osage lands of it’s Indian inhabitants – who held the rights to the oil there – so they could claim it for themselves. During the course of doing so, 60 of them either went missing or were killed. This is what happened.

Analysis: Let’s kick things right off and say that this years Oscar’s race just got VERY interesting. Scorsese’s latest epic reminds cinemagoers once again why he is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. A fierce and powerfully performed tale of betrayal, violence and corruption that stands on it’s own and beats it’s chest. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Ernest Burkhart, a soldier returning from war to reunite with his uncle William Hale, played by Robert De Niro who lives in the Osage lands and is referred to as the ‘King’; the ruler of these lands. During the course of the film, the two plot and scheme their way towards claiming the buried treasure beneath the ground. Each deliver one of the best performances of their career’s.

This film marks the seventh time Scorsese had worked with DiCaprio (their first was in 2003 with ‘Gangs of New York’) and the eleventh with De Niro (they met in 1972 and worked together for the first time in 1973 with ‘Mean Streets’ – wow indeed). Needless to say, these collaborations could easily be considered amongst the best in cinematic history. This is one of the best performances I’ve seen from DiCaprio, he seems to yet again disappear into the character, he is extraordinary. However, the stand out of the entire film is Lily Gladstone who portrays Mollie Burkhart who’s family owns the oil. She manages to outdo her counterparts through a masterful performance that took my breath away – some moments which are either expertly subtle or loudly melancholic – either way, she is remarkable here.

Lets address the elephant in the room. The film has a whopping (and leg aching) three and a half hour running time; does it need to be this long? My answer is yes, yet I suspect most will say no as it may be too long for them to sit through (some audiences nowadays even turn their nose up to films that are two and a half hours). Most of Scorsese’s film’s are very long, but two are extraordinary standouts; this and ‘The Irishman’ – a film that spanned 60 years and shared the exact same run time. I confidently believe that a film needs however long it needs to tell it’s story, only the people telling it should know how long it needs to be, a sense of trust you must have in them one could say. At no point during this was I bored nor did I feel like it dragged , it (bizarrely) shared a similar story construction to ‘Oppenheimer’ in terms of how it handles legal matters and at what point during the film it does so.

That is only me though but there is certainly more to it than that. The general mood and tone of the film is very heavy and full of dread, these aspects brought to frightening life through exemplary direction and cinematography by three time Oscar nominated Rodrigo Prieto. One particular moment of extraordinarily graphic (but brief) gore got a couple of gasps from the audience – myself included. Some moments are like nightmarish hallucinations yet others paint a calm and peaceful paradise, you can never trust which one is truly which. It’s scale and spectacle is something that Scorsese has also come to be known for, his films often include giant sets featuring hundreds / thousands of extras.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is the best Martin Scorsese film since I’ve seen since ‘Goodfellas’, a very bold claim I’m aware. It is a ruthlessly unforgiving story told with both careful sensitivity yet alarming accuracy and unflinching nature that will leave you disturbed long after the credits roll. Filled to the brim with impeccable performances from a director who has yet again reminded us why he is one of the best in the business.

Overall Rating: 10 / 10 – Perfect

Target Audience: 15+

Content Warning: strong violence, injury detail, racism

Recommendation: Yes