KILLER OF THE FLOWER MOON
October 20, 2023 / Paramount Pictures Canada
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, Tantoo Cardinal, John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser
Directed By Martin Scorsese
At the turn of the 20th century, oil brought a fortune to the Osage Nation, who became some of the richest people in the world overnight. The wealth of these Native Americans immediately attracted white interlopers, who manipulated, extorted, and stole as much Osage money as they could before resorting to murder. Based on a true story and told through the improbable romance of Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone), “Killers of the Flower Moon” is an epic western crime saga, where real love crosses paths with unspeakable betrayal. Also starring Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, and Jillian Dion, Killers of the Flower Moon is directed by Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese from a screenplay by Eric Roth and Scorsese, based on David Grann’s best-selling book.
Written By Darren
Rating 4.5 out of 5
Killers of the Flower Moon is a masterclass in storytelling and directing that has become synonymous with director Martin Scorsese as he brings this harrowing true story to the big screen with an epic scale, but it is the spellbinding performance of Lily Gladstone that makes this one of the year’s best films.
Martin Scorsese is one of the most legendary filmmakers in the world, best known for his crime films such as The Departed, Goodfellas and Mean Streets. He is one of those directors that makes for event cinema when he releases his newest film every couple of years, with his last big release being 2019’s The Irishman. For his latest film, Scorsese uses his crime drama roots as he tells the story of the murders of members of the Osage tribe in the United States in the 1920s. Never for a second losing sight of the human stories at the centre of the film, the film captures larger implications of the story and culture of the Osage tribe with a breathtaking vision that makes the three and a half hour run time fly by. It’s a captivating cinematic experience that must be experienced on the big screen, as the film takes the audience on an intense and emotional journey.
Scorsese loves working with Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, and to no surprise both of them give outstanding performance. DiCaprio gives another tremendous performance as Ernest Burkhart, a man torn between the love of the wife and his children, and the grand vision his uncle has for their family. The conflict brewing within DiCaprio is captivating, bringing to life the tragic nature of the film’s story with a truly raw performance that is among one of DiCaprio’s best. De Niro towers over the film as DiCaprio’s character’s uncle William Hale, the calculating and money hungry patriarch of the family, with a truly sinister performance. In every scene, De Niro has a slick yet chilling presence to the film that speaks to his character’s true ambitions underneath his charming persona. It’s a complex and nuanced performance from a true legend of the craft, much like DiCaprio, making for one of the best performances of De Niro’s career. Jesse Plemmons and Brendan Fraser are both impressive in their supporting roles once they make their appearance in the film’s final act, stealing their scenes momentarily from the lead cast.
But, this film belongs to Lily Gladstone’s sensational performance as Mollie Burkhart, who dazzles every second she is on screen in one of the year’s finest performances. Gladstone made headlines a few weeks ago when her awards campaign launched her into the best actress race, despite many believing she was a lock to win the best supporting actress category, but having seen the film, there is no doubt in my mind that she is one of the lead contenders for best actress at the Oscars next year. There is no film without her soulful, vulnerable and powerful performance as Mollie. Watching her family and her people around her be murdered for the land as she begins to fear for her own safety, and that of her children, Gladstone is a force to be reckoned with. When she speaks, you hang on her every word as she commands the entire scene, but there is so much unsaid by her throughout the performance. The sorrow she holds in her eyes during her non speaking moments is utterly gut wrenching, conveying everything the audience needs to know about her character’s emotion without uttering a single word. It’s a masterful performance, where Gladstone not only holds her ground against DiCaprio and De Niro, but runs away with the entire film!
Though the film has an incredibly lengthy runtime, not a single moment is wasted thanks to an exceptional screenplay from Scorsese and his co-writer Eric Roth. Every single scene propels the story forward, whether it be establishing the characters or presenting one of the many pieces of the story to the audience. The film starts and never stops moving, keeping you hooked for every second as the true horrors of the story begin to reveal themself. The issues the film explores feel more relevant today than ever as countries around the world look at their past treatment of their aboriginal peoples, and begin to address their dark past and make amends for it. Roth and Scorsese deliver a stunning, emotionally powerful and draining third act that will leave you speechless not only because of the prowess of their storytelling, but because of the profound impact the ending of the story has on viewers that will have you struggling to find words to describe the emotional devastation you are feeling. While the film could have ended with your typical text to say what happened to all of the characters, Scorsese and Roth doing something more unique, that both fits the time period of the film while also creating an unforgettable tribute to Mollie Burkhart that will cause the tears to flow.
As a visual experience, the film is stunning. The cinematography gives the film a grand scale with landscapes of Oklahoma coming to life on the big screen. Rodrgigo Prietp captures so many incredible shots throughout the film, such as the oil erupting from the ground, the night time shots with the glow of the fire, or sweeping plains of the Osage land. It’s nothing short of a visual feast that demands to be seen in theatres, as Scorsese and his team intended for the film to be viewed. The costumes and production design are outstanding, capturing both 1920s America and the Osage culture in beautiful detail.
It comes as no surprise that Martin Scorsese’s latest film is yet another cinematic masterpiece with outstanding performances from the entire cast, mesmerizing visuals and a powerful story that will leave its mark on viewers. Led by a truly unforgettable performance from Lily Gladstone that will leave you speechless, Martin Scorsese tells the story of the Osage murders with a delicacy to the individuals involved, but with a grand, epic scale that makes Killers of the Flower Moon a must see motion picture event that is among one of the year’s best films!