Killers of the Flower Moon

Directed By Martin Scorsese

Starring – Leonardo Dicaprio, Robert DeNiro, Lily Gladstone

The Plot – Members of the Osage tribe in the United States are murdered under mysterious circumstances in the 1920s, sparking a major F.B.I. investigation involving J. Edgar Hoover.

Rated R for violence involving grisly images, and adult language

Killers of the Flower Moon — Official Trailer – YouTube


Scorsese once more proves that age is just a meaningless number, as at 81-years-old, he has conjured one of his hauntingly impactful and important films of his storied and iconic career. From a directing standpoint, the film is full of historical meaning, both in the powerful rise and fall of the Osage tribe’s temporary fortunes, at the hands of a full-blown white takeover, but also the traumatic treatment that each of them faced while their worlds turned completely upside down. While elements of the storytelling are obviously fictional, the historical accuracy supplanted by Scorsese is downright brilliant, attaining an unapologetic accuracy to historical context that cuts like the sharpest knife, without sacrificing entertainment value in such. On this aspect, Martin’s pen is just as prominent as his punch, imbedding a love story between two respective sides directly in the middle of this psychological power struggle that is essentially one-sided, which could easily be the means of bringing two distinct cultures together, but instead crumbles as a victim for 20th century American white greed, where we the audience scintillatingly anticipate what’s to come from a plan that we can already make out. This investment maximizes the potential both in Scorsese’s indulging dialogue, which seamlessly immerses us with ease into the psychologies of various characters, but also in the roller-coaster evolution of his three-act structure, which can feel like three distinctly different tonal acts converging as one cohesive property. Marty also makes the most of the minutes inside of his nearly three-and-a-half hour ambitious run time, growing the tension and stakes of the conflict accordingly and patiently throughout, which gives us all the more time to get to know and grow with these wild card personalities. In such, we’re treated to an actors showcase that outlines a dazzling trio of award-worthy contenders. Dicaprio once more emotionally transforms, with an effortless Southern drawl in accent consistency, and grungy, grimy demeanor that obscures much of the familiarity of the actor that his unshakeable identity could properly muster. In addition to this, Robert DeNiro has now made the Best Supporting Actor category at next year’s Oscars a two man race, with easily his best work of the last decade. DeNiro’s William Hale is the devil incarnate, who one second will build you up with the confidence and care of a family influence, but soon after rule you with devious ruthlessness, as he pulls the strings as the puppet master of Osage’s many inner dealings. But make no mistake about it, as Gladstone is the heart of this occasion, with an attention-grabbing emphasis in on-screen demeanor and honest deliveries, which are only eclipsed by the stoicism that she conveys in receiving one devastating gut-punch after the next. Gladstone’s time is easily and unfortunately the least among her and her male co-stars, but she continuously imbeded a captivating emphasis to scenes she invaded, with emotional impulses to stares that say so much, without ever actually saying anything at all. Lastly, the production values spare no cent in bringing to life the imagery and imagination of the 1920’s, with each technical element serving as vital ingredients to the melting pot of meaning that simmered the movie’s presentation. The cinematography here from Rodrigo Prieto is three-dimensionally tangible, with delicious decay in the imagery that weathers the canvas with maintained influence at the madness unfurling around this chaotic town, and everything from the costume designs, to set decoration, to even make-up, earns a vital role towards properly channeling this distinct era and geographical setting in American history, and one that visually and atmospherically feels so unlike anything that Scorsese has manufactured in the duration of his fifty year directorial career.


While nothing terribly compromising to the film’s finished product, a couple of weak aspects of the engagement did inspire distance from the perfect score that I so rarely give, and it starts with one severely overlooked angle from the script. This is in the depths of the characters and dynamics of the Osage Tribe, who initially are given the time and attention they so rightfully deserve, but as the film persists, find themselves as background decoration to the focus of the narrative that rarely includes them. Part of this could be intentional, to reflect the diminishing number of Osage population in the air of some deviously devilish schemes by their white oppressors, but considering this film is nearly three-and-a-half hours, I felt that there was more opportunity to depict them in ways that feel more integral to the film’s converging third act climax, especially since the resolution calls on a couple of them, who haven’t been properly rendered towards understanding them by name value. Beyond this, some underwhelming decisions within the third act took some of the proverbial wind from my sails, especially that of one bad performance that couldn’t stop disappointing me. I’m unfortunately talking about this year’s Best Actor winner, Brendan Fraser, who shows up with around forty minutes left in the film, and distracts with the most over-the-top and borderling obnoxious deliveries in the movie. Because everyone else assembled is giving their best stuff, it’s a little jarring to see Fraser become a cartoon before us, and while I have no doubt that nobody else will feel as affected by it, I felt the movie halted in his tracks when he appeared, to give some Shakespaerian performance that the film or his role so desparately didn’t require. This unfortunate unnecessity also lends itself to the film’s closing moments, where a questionable act completely wiped the emotional impact of so many character’s resolutions. I can certainly understand what Scorsese was going for here, in that indiginous tragedy is often used for white entertainment, but I felt that it just didn’t belong in a film so tense and at times horrific, especially in that it featured out-of-nowhere cameos by Marty and The White Stripes lead singer Jack White, of all people.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is another towering cinematic achievement in the life and times of one of the game’s greatest storytellers, and one that unlike Scorsese’s previous film, “The Irishman”, justifies every bit of its inflated three-and-a-half hour run time by continuously keeping the storytelling and its tension in a high-stakes race to the finish line. With a trio of triumphant turns deserving academy recognition, a picture-perfect prominence of production, and a gut-wrenching insight into the rise and fall of the Osage Tribe’s overnight wealth, Scorsese manages something every bit as daring as it is haunting, in turn responsibly confronting the ghosts of the country’s past with undeterred focus and admirable honesty.

My Grade: 9/10 or A

8 thoughts on “Killers of the Flower Moon

  1. This sounds incredible. It is such an important story that needs to be told, and I am glad that it was handled the right way. The acting sounds amazing, and I am disappointed that Brandon Fraser’s character doesn’t come across. The run time is a bit much, which will probably cause me to wait until it hits apple plus, but this is definitely one I want to check out!

  2. What an incredibly written review! I am looking forward to seeing this film. The star filled cast being directed by an all time greats instantly enthralled me. I’m sad to hear Frasier didn’t make much of an impact in the film. Was there an intermission or did they just grind out the 3 1/2 hour s?

  3. So happy to read your palpably high praise for this one as it deserves so much appreciation for many of the reasons that you went over. Between the performances, the importance of the story, and the exceptional technical aspects, this is easily a true contender for next year’s Oscar’s which will make the awards all the more interesting. That being said, I couldn’t go quite as high with my thoughts because I personally didn’t think that the near 3 and hour runtime was warranted. Between that and the slow burn build up which made the first act hard to get invested in for me, I don’t being close to my best of the year list. Nonetheless, I totally understand why it will for many people and I can’t wait to where it lands on your end of year list! Marvelous job!

  4. I’m really excited to see this one, especially after your review and the grade you gave it! I’ll come back after I watch and share my thoughts!

  5. I agree with you about Scorsese using his nearly 3.5 hours well! I definitely went in dreading since I loathed The Irishman’s length. You can tell Marty really respected and wanted to honor this story and tell it right! Brendan Fraser was absolutely a letdown. It could have been played by anyone and compared to the powerhouse performances up to that point (Lily Gladstone better secure that Best Actress win SOHELPMEGOD) , he didn’t stand a chance of being notable with this role. This better receive the major Oscar nominations because it deserves to! Wonderful review for a movie I went in with potentially unfair reservations. Scorsese can still make a superb film!

  6. Another Scorsese masterclass and another fantastic review. The review was just as gripping as the film sounds like it’s going to be. This is one film I am throughly excited to finally see and your review set a nice high bar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *