Killers of the Flower Moon Takes a Different Look at a Dark History

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Killers of the Flower Moon Review

The highly anticipated film adaptation of the book Killers of the Flower Moon is now playing in theaters. Following the true story of the Osage nation and the fortune their tribe falls into after finding oil on the land they were forced onto, and the fall out of that wealth the years following. From murder, assault and evil plots – the story seems almost too dark to be true – but falls in line with the other racial massacres of the time.

Killers of the Flower Moon starts after the first World War. The Osage nation found oil on their land around the turn of the century and now towns have developed around them trying to take advantage of the money and the people. From marrying into the families in order to take their land rights and all the way to murder in order to take land and money that the white towns folk feel is theirs without any reasoning.

Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns from the war to live with his uncle Bill Hale (Robert De Niro) known as the King. Almost instantly his uncle starts schooling him on the Osage culture and how to work with them. But more imporantly he brings up Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone), and starts suggesting that his nephew gets close to her. Without much prompting Ernest not only gets close to Mollie but falls in love with her. This love, however, seems to be very surface level in order for him to go along with a lot of his uncle’s plans as the years pass.

DiCaprio’s depiction of Burkhart is slow, easily manipulated and full of self loathing. With a jutting jaw sticking out, it must have hurt at the end each day. Brooding and moody, at times it seems he loves Mollie, but the majority of the time he’s not smart enough to make his own decisions. It’s not a character arch that shows growth, or even true mallace – but instead just unremarkable unintelligence. It almost seems like this was a buy out. A way to get rid of Burkhart’s cuplability of what he did to Mollie and her family. It doesn’t actually make the character a better person that he was manipulated into doing things, instead, it just seem like a boring cog moving through a dark plan controlled by his uncle.

There’s no doubt that Killers of the Flower Moon gives a much needed and interesting look at the murders of the Osage people. And while the book of the same title focuses on the creation of the FBI as an a result, the movie focuses on the men that carried out the crimes. It isn’t trying to push the blame on the victims and it does give reverence to their culture.

One thing that the movie does highlight well is that the people of the Osage nation, more specifically the women are seen as nothing more as a commodity that can be utilized and abused in order to get their fortunes. Speckled between the, no doubt period accurate, racial slurs the movie shows the mistreatment and abuse the women and other tribe members endure.

Unfortunately, the movie may lose a lot of viewers along the way due to its seemingly bloated run time of almost three and a half hours. The movie takes a leisurely pace telling the story, maybe it’s methodical due to the time frame, or just for the art of cinema. But unless the movie is streaming, or they magically put an intermission in the film – it’s going to be a hard sell for a lot of audiences.

While Killers of the Flower Moon is no doubt an interesting story that should be told, like the other racial massacres in our nation’s history, the movie just doesn’t seem to be a slam dunk. And while it seems to be an obvious pick for award season, general audiences may find it too long, too cumbersome and just not as good as they had hoped.

Killers of the Flower Moon is now playing in select theaters.

Overall Rating:

Four Star Review

About Killers of the Flower Moon:

Killers of the Flower Moon

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 and Jesse Plemons, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is directed by Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese from a screenplay by Eric Roth and Martin Scorsese, based on David Grann’s best-selling book.

Hailing from Apple Studios, “Killers of the Flower Moon” was produced alongside Imperative Entertainment, Sikelia Productions and Appian Way. Producers are Martin Scorsese, Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas and Daniel Lupi, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Rick Yorn, Adam Sommer, Marianne Bower, Lisa Frechette, John Atwood, Shea Kammer and Niels Juul serving as executive producers.  

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