An American Tale
Killers of the Flower Moon is Scorsese at his most daring
Online discourse would have one believe that Martin Scorsese is a director of "mob films." This is grossly inaccurate of course, but if Scorsese's body of work were to have a unifying theme, it would be the belief that America was built on money and violence — a theme further emphasized in Killers of the Flower Moon. At a time when some state legislators are attempting to erase the darker aspects of America's past from history books, this film is more important than ever and it proves that the octogenarian has not lost any of his energy or creativity.
After the discovery of oil on their land, the Osage people suddenly became the wealthiest people per capita in the world. This naturally brought greedy opportunists, and this influx of people inevitably led to violence. After members of her family are murdered, Mollie Burkhart (Lily Gladstone) appeals to the government to help solve the murders. But this leads to shocking truths about her husband Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his uncle (Robert De Niro) who know much more about the crimes than they show.
Like all of his best films, Scorsese tells this story with dynamic camerawork and editing, never letting the story drag despite its gargantuan runtime. DiCaprio and De Niro are excellent, as expected, but it is Gladstone who is the real standout of the film. Her understated performance speaks to the less privileged peoples throughout history who suffered at the hand of American exceptionalism (the film takes place at the same time as the Tulsa massacre). I'm unsure how many films Scorsese has left in him, but if this will be his final statement, it is the perfect end to a legendary career.
Directed by Martin Scorsese // Written by Scorsese and Eric Roth // Based on the book by David Grann // Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, Jillion Dion, Jason Isbell, William Belleau, Louis Cancelmi, John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser, and Jesse Plemons // Paramount // 206 minutes // Rated R