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Home > Killers of the Flower Moon (2023): A Review

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023): A Review

Killers of the Flower Moon A Review

A Film in Need of Shaving

Acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese has never shied away from making extraordinarily long films. Many of his most popular films clock in at or around the three-hour mark, including The Wolf of Wall Street, Casino, Silence, and The Aviator. Despite the lengthy runtimes, many of his films rarely feel as if they drag on, such as with The Wolf of Wall Street, which never seemed to waste a minute of screen time. However, he has also produced films that, while still well-crafted, feel too bloated and in need of trimming down, such as the case with The Irishman. With his latest project, Killers of the Flower Moon, Martin Scorsese delivers another welcomed addition to his filmography but unfortunately didn’t learn any lessons from The Irishman.

An Epic American Crime Story

Killers of the Flower Moon takes place during the 1920s and follows the Osage tribe, a Native American group that resided on a poor piece of land. When the Osage discover that their land has oil, they quickly become some of the wealthiest people in the world. As their riches begin to build, white infiltrators begin befriending the Osage and force their way into their families in order to extract their wealth. Soon, their efforts turn to murder, catching the attention of the newly founded FBI. 

When exploring Scorsese’s filmography, the majority of his catalogue of movies revolves around crime. Whether exploring the criminal undergrounds in films like The Departed or white-collar crimes in films like The Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese has made a name for himself in Hollywood by exploring these darker sides of humanity. His latest entry continues this trend, but in a way that feels refreshing from the rest of his library of movies. It feels familiar in the sense of the deviance of his characters but refreshing in the setting of the movie. 

Scorsese isn’t a stranger to violence, with the majority of his beloved films including moments of brutality. However, the murders depicted in Killers of the Flower Moon feel more menacing than in his gangster epics. The majority of the victims in the film are innocent people who are simply being preyed upon for their wealth, which makes the villains of the film feel more sinister. Since the violence isn’t occurring to people who are facing it due to the outcomes of their own actions, such as with some of the gangsters in his other films, it makes these bloodier moments feel more brutal.

The Tragedies of Love

At the heart of the movie is the love story between Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Mollie Burkhart (Lily Gladstone). In an interview with IndieWire, Scorsese explained how he wanted the film to lean into the love story aspect rather than the crime. As the crimes begin to heat up, the relationship between the two leads continues to help keep the movie grounded and create the emotional aspect of the movie.

Although DiCaprio provides another great performance, it isn’t necessarily anything different from what audiences have seen from him before. Having worked with Scorsese multiple times, we’ve seen the pair work well together, but it left his performance feeling a little drier than the rest of the cast.

Killers of the Flower Moon A Review

 Playing opposite DiCaprio is Lily Gladstone, who became a stand-out in the movie. Since Gladstone is not a household name like DiCaprio or DeNiro, she was able to blend into her role rather than being simply known by her name. Her character has a playful snarky-ness to her persona in the beginning, only to turn loving and caring as her relationship with DiCaprio develops. When the film eventually reveals the true nature of their relationship through little dialogue, Gladstone’s performance demonstrates the mixture of pain, anger, and horror she experiences. 

An Overly Stuffed Narrative

While the film overall is another great addition to the filmmaker’s catalogue, the movie is way too long for its own good. Many of the scenes feel as if they stretch past their natural end-point, whereas other moments feel as if they could have been removed entirely. The first hour to an hour and a half would have benefited from being more concise. The setup takes an unnecessary amount of time to develop, with the meat of the story taking a while to evolve. Once the central murder investigation begins and the suspense of the story starts to escalate, the rest of the two hours breeze by.

Despite the lengthy run-time, the movie at times feels a little uneven, as it spends an exorbitant amount of time on certain plot lines while feeling as if other points weren’t given a proper amount of screen time. For example, the climax of the film introduces a plot point that could have benefited from being expanded upon. It leaves you wanting everything that occurs in roughly the last thirty minutes to be stretched out more. It also would have been interesting to see the investigation plot-line involving the FBI be further explored. While the movie doesn’t necessarily have any weak plot lines, the film could have benefited from more time being dedicated to these story threads that ultimately were the more interesting aspects of the movie. Instead, more time was given to the set-up that could have easily and should have been shortened.

Killer in More Ways Than One

No matter how good the movie is, it’s a difficult film to recommend to audiences. The run-time alone is likely to turn numerous viewers away, while the subject matter of the story doesn’t make for an easy watch. In the end, it comes down to a viewer’s tolerance level of watching a true crime story, as well as a viewer’s attention span to willingly sit in a theater for three and half hours, possibly four, when taking into account the endless amount of trailers that play beforehand. 

Similar to Scorsese’s previous film, The Irishman, it’s a film worth watching at least once, but it isn’t necessary to rush out to a theater to see it. Average audiences that don’t value the theatrical experience as much will likely have a better experience with the movie at home, where they can watch it from the comfort of their couch and have the ability to pause the film whenever needed. 

Killers of the Flower Moon is currently playing in theaters.

Killers of the Flower Moon A Review

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023): Official Apple TV Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Author

Mason Kupiainen is a recent Butler University graduate with a degree in Creative Media and Entertainment. His work has been published in Butler Collegiate, The Mall, and Byte BSU. Along with written work, he has a videography portfolio with Indy Blue Video, Byte BSU, and Ball Bearings.
Elke Simmons' writing portfolio includes contributions to The Laredo Morning Times, Walt Disney World Eyes and Ears, Extinction Rebellion (XR) News/Blog, and Dead Talk News.