Martin Scorsese, one of the most renowned American filmmakers, has joined forces once again with two of his most beloved actors to direct, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, for his latest masterpiece, Killers of the Flower Moon, produced under the banner of Apple Studios. The screenplay for the movie is skillfully crafted by Scorsese and Eric Roth, bringing to life the captivating story from the same-titled novel by David Grann.
As I am getting more experienced in my passion as a film critic, I tend to avoid trailers and other promotional materials as much as possible, especially when it comes to award-contender films, so that I can go blind. Martin Scorsese has created remarkable movies with Leonardo DiCaprio five times and with Robert DeNiro nine times. However, as a fan of this trio, I would have watched Killers of the Flower Moon regardless of the plot, even if it was about the trio portraying polka singers.
Killers of the Flower Moon is set in the 1920s and starts with a stunning cinematic introduction that provides a detailed view of the Osage community. The Osage Nation was a group of Native Americans who lived in Oklahoma and were given the natural oil gift on their land. This discovery made them the wealthiest group of people in the country per capita almost overnight.
We then meet war veteran Ernest (played by DiCaprio) as he meets up with his uncle, William King Hale (played by De Niro). Ernest struggles to make ends meet and is addicted to women and alcohol. His uncle, Hale, is a cunning mastermind who desires a share of the wealth. To achieve his goal, Hale uses political tactics to appear friendly to the Osage tribe and the white community while secretly scheming to increase his riches.
Hale essentially pimps out Ernest to Mollie (Lily Gladstone), a resident of the wealthy Osage community. Over time, the Osage population begins to lose members one by one to various actions, not knowing who the true mastermind behind all of the tragedy is.
At its core, Killers of the Flower Moon is about greed and how far someone will go to maintain that status. I initially thought Leo would play the hero in this film, but his character goes into some dark places. I don't see Leo getting any awards talk, possibly because his performance is too safe.
De Niro's character, Hale, is undoubtedly the film's most valuable player. He possesses a unique ability to sell the concept of murder with a charming smile and a direct gaze - a rare talent that adds depth and intrigue to his character. His presence on screen is captivating, leaving a lasting impression on the audience. His recent paycheck jobs are forgiven after seeing De Niro in this film.
Regarding the supporting cast, the early awards talk of Lily Gladstone is all warranted, while Cara Jada Myers and Scott Shepherd provide commendable supporting work as the married sibling of DiCarpro and Gladstone characters. Jesse Plemons is also good in an all-to-brief role.
While I did enjoy Killers of the Flower Moon and recommend it, there are some flaws. For starters, I found the film too long. I understand the depth of the story the creatives wanted to go, but I did feel the 3.5-hour run time. In addition, there is a line about the Tulsa massacre (you'll know it when you hear it) that didn't sit right with me.
Martin Scorsese's newest movie, Killers of the Flower Moon, falls in the category of his previous efforts like The Irishman, Silence, and Kundun, which I am not inclined to revisit. However, this film boasts a talented cast and crew, and their expert skills are evident throughout the movie.
Although it may not find a way into my year's top ten, Killers of the Flower Moon is undoubtedly a cinematic gem worth watching at least once.
Final Grade: B+
Killers of the Flower Moon will be released in theaters on Thursday and Apple TV at a later date.