KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON – A Review by Cynthia Flores
I want to do justice to this film by reviewing it without giving away any major plot points. So, there are no spoilers in this review. I will also tell you that it is a long movie running at three hours and twenty-six minutes. So use the restroom before it starts, and choose the smaller soda and not the supersized tub-o-soda you usually get. That being said, this film is so good that you will not notice how long it takes to watch it. Scorsese masterfully manages to engulf the audience in this story of brutality with a culture of killing and complicity in such a way that you will lose track of time.
The movie Killers of the Flower Moon is based on the 2017 non-fiction book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. He also co-wrote the screenplay. Scorsese re-wrote the story to make it a story about more than just “all the white guys,” as he is quoted as saying. In the book, the main character is FBI investigator Tom White (Jesse Plemons), and the story is set in the oil-rich Osage Nation in the 1920s.
This version of the story centers on a white man, Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio). Still, the story’s core revolves around his marriage to a native American woman named Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone). Through her eyes, we see all the systematic killing of her people with no consequences.
In the mix of the town folk is the supposed friend of the tribe, Ernest’s uncle William Hale (Robert De Niro). He is a wealthy and powerful man who teaches his nephew the best ways to acquire the wealth of the Osage people, such as marrying into the tribe and producing children. Legally assuring that the stream of wealth the oil has given the tribe works its way into the Hale family. William did not count on the fact that Ernest would actually fall in love with Mollie, which would be the source of how all this vice would unwind.
Everyone in this movie does a great job acting out this lack of morality play. DeCaprio always does well under Scorcese’s direction. But he manages to finally get past his good looks and create in Ernest a simple man caught between greed and love. De Niro is a significant presence on screen as William. He plays the part with the swagger of a Southern Preacher. The stand out for me was Lily Gladstone. She has done parts in other films and TV shows, but this will be her breakout performance. She brings to the character of Mollie a soulful performance. With just one look, she can break your heart with the sadness of what she and her people have had to bear. The actress is quoted as praising the rewrite when she said, “It’s not a white-savior story. It’s the Osage saying, ‘Do something. Here’s money. Come help us.”
This is one of the last films that Robbie Robertson scored. His music is fantastic, and his score is another character in this layered film. It mixes well with popular music from the 1920s and Native American songs.
I give Killers of the Flower Moon 5-stars. It’s one of Scorsese’s finest films. It will be in the run for all the Oscar categories. This is one film that is best seen on the big screen. So make sure you catch it on its theatrical run.
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Eric Roth, Martin Scorsese, David Grann
Running Time: 3h 26min
Drama / History
Wide Release: In theaters Oct 20th
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Tantoo Cardinal, Scott Shepherd
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.
4 Stars – Good movie/show
3 Stars – OK movie/show
2 Stars – Well, there was nothing else…
1 Star – Total waste of time.