‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Review

One of the FBI’s first homicide cases, oil, romance and Leonardo Dicaprio all feature in Martin Scorsese’s newest crime-drama and it’s a doozy.
Killers of the Flower Moon focuses on Fairfax, Oklahoma and the oil rights owned by the Osage tribe.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” focuses on Fairfax, Oklahoma and the oil rights owned by the Osage tribe.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is an incredibly powerful, important and heavy movie that delivers what most modern blockbusters lack these days. It values the impact of a human life and the effect it has on others. As the blockbuster genre gains bolder stakes and, with that, more lives at stake, they forget to show the impact this has on the families and the communities that are losing their loved ones. “Flower Moon” shows everything. It allows the audience to sit beside the Osage and feel every passing moment as it should be felt. The movie shows the worst in humanity, and it does so by showing every perspective before and after each murder.

Based on the book, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is set in 1920s Oklahoma and follows Ernest Burkhart (portrayed by Leonardo Dicaprio) as he returns from war to live with his uncle (played by Robert De Niro) and brother. The story is set in Fairfax, a town dominated by oil wealth owned by members of the Osage tribe. As Ernest sets into his new job as a cab driver, he falls for a local Osage woman, Mollie (Lily Gladstone), who quickly develops feelings for Ernest as well. Soon after bewedding, many members of the Osage tribe begin dying off, leaving the wealth to their white neighbors and relatives. Even as the FBI’s first murder case, the audience soon questions if the case will ever be solved. 

The direction provides just the right amount of balance between character perspectives enough to understand the situations everyone is experiencing.

— Samuel Rosenthal

While Dicaprio and De Niro provide just as quality acting as you would expect, Lily Gladstone is the absolute standout performance. Working beside Hollywood A-listers is no small feat, yet Gladstone delivers a career-defining performance, delivering both a subtle and unconcealed performance in an incredible balance. More than in many films, the direction provides just the right amount of balance between character perspectives enough to understand the situations everyone is experiencing. Although, it would have been nice to see more of Mollie’s relationship with her family. 

There is a scene near the end of the film where, in a radio segment, a set of speakers recount what transpired within this set of ten years in an incredibly powerful manner. After three hours of experiencing everything that had occurred, for it to all be regulated to a short five-minute radio segment is an extremely effective sequence. Considering that is how most of the general population learned of these events, being able to experience what occurred and then hear about it in such a short amount of time is really impactful. The final radio segment was able to show how necessary it was for the story to be told.

As one of the front-running, possible 2024 Oscar nominees, this would be an incredibly deserving picture of a Best Picture Nomination. As a three and a half hour film, the run time would be noticeable for casual movie-goers. However, for how well produced the film is, it deserves a longer run-time. As a period piece with fantastic cinematography, beautiful music and technical prowess, “Killers of the Flower Moon” delivers one of the best character stories, technical mastery and stories of the year. 

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