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Film Review: Killers of the Flower Moon

Kelaru & Fulton rating: ★★★★★

Now in Cinemas and coming soon to AppleTV+ | Runtime: 3hrs 26mins

 

In the realm of cinema, few names resonate with as much gravitas as Martin Scorsese. His cinematic oeuvre, a treasure trove of masterpieces, has consistently probed the depths of human nature and society. It comes as no surprise that when Scorsese decides to adapt a poignant work of historical non-fiction into a movie, the film world takes notice. Killers of the Flower Moon is such a film, an epic and important exploration of a dark chapter in American history that deserves our full attention and reflection.

The title 'Killers of the Flower Moon' is itself steeped in the chilling history of Osage County, Oklahoma, where the story is set. The 'Flower Moon' refers to the May full moon, a period when the Osage people, whose lands were tainted with oil riches, would adorn themselves with wildflowers. This juxtaposition of natural beauty and human darkness sets the stage for the film's exploration of an era characterised by greed, prejudice, and violence.

The film centres on the character of Ernest Burkhart, a war veteran returning to Oklahoma, as he courts and marries Mollie (Lily Gladstone), an Osage woman whose family became very wealthy after oil was discovered on their land. Opposite DiCaprio, we find Robert De Niro, reuniting with Scorsese once again. De Niro portrays William ‘King’ Hale, a key figure in the Osage murders, and his performance is nothing short of chilling. This veteran actor showcases his ability to embody the darkest corners of human nature, making Hale a truly menacing antagonist.


This trio of actors is nothing short of spectacular, each making the most of their presence onscreen while bringing new techniques to their acting that we haven’t seen before. DiCaprio’s performance as the less-than-bright Ernest comes with a transformation of DiCaprio’s face, the actor keeping his jaw and slouched for the entire film, while acting the role and its many nuances at the same time. Robert DeNiro gives a career-defining performance, a true wolf-in-sheep’s clothing with such malice hiding behind those eyes that you will be forgiven for looking away during the many close-ups of this screen legend.


Lily Gladstone's performance is a masterclass in subtlety and emotional depth. She conveys the pain and resilience of Mollie Burkhart with a quiet yet powerful presence. The nuances of her performance allow the audience to connect with the character's plight on a profound level. Mollie's journey in the film is one of heartache and determination, and Gladstone navigates it with exceptional skill. Her performance is a testament to the importance of representation in cinema, as she brings to life a character who embodies the strength and resilience of the Osage people.

Killers of the Flower Moon is, at its core, a somber reckoning with America's past. The film unflinchingly confronts the systemic racism and corruption that allowed the Osage murders to occur. It doesn't shy away from depicting the brutality of these crimes, nor does it soften the harsh realities faced by the Osage people.


Don’t get me wrong, this is not a mere retelling of a historical tragedy. Instead, it serves as a crucial cultural artefact, inviting viewers to reflect on America's past and its enduring impact on the present. The film examines the legacy of racial injustice and economic exploitation, themes that continue to shape our society today. It's a poignant reminder that history, both the beautiful and the ugly, is an inseparable part of our collective identity.


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