Killers of the Flower Moon Review | An Engrossing Drama That Approaches a Real Story in a Character-Driven Way

The running time of the new Martin Scorsese movie Killers of the Flower Moon is roughly 206 minutes (three and a half hours). My admiration for the movie after watching it on the big screen was because of the fact that it never felt like a dull treatment despite the tempo of the narration being on the slower side with fewer scores and static frames. Narrated from the perspective of the bad guys, Martin Scorses’s Killers of the Flower Moon stays with you because of the way it establishes the details of the true story and the culture while trying to narrate a cinematic story.

The movie is based on a true incident that happened in the early 1920s when The Osage Nation in the USA witnessed a series of deaths in the indigenous tribe. The Osage community was a very rich community at that time due to the oil reserve they had, and the white people were desperate to take control of that wealth. How this inverted hierarchy and greed made a man named William King Hale create a master plan to eliminate all the Osage tribe people and how it unfolded eventually is what we witness in this movie.

As I already said, Eric Roth and Martin Scorsese have narrated it from the perspective of the white men who orchestrated this murder spree. If you look at it from a documentary perspective, Ernest Burkhart is just a member of Hale’s gang who got carried away thinking everything would work in favor of him. Through the eyes of Ernest, who doesn’t have much of a stand in the whole issue, Scorsese shows us both sides of the story. What is interesting is the fact that neither the crookedness in Hale’s planning nor the loss happening to the community is depicted in an overtly dramatic way. It is when you sit and think about an ailing Mollie you realize what she has gone through.

Leonardo Dicaprio, as Ernest Burkhart, gets to play this guy who doesn’t have much of a decision of his own. He gets tossed around by people, and as a performer, that offers Dicaprio a space to depict a range of conflicts. The final meeting between Ernest and Mollie is like a tricky space for an actor as the acting is more psychological than visibly emotional. Robert De Niro is playing the role of the crooked Mr. Hale, and the man looks so believable as that white supremacist who was willing to kill anyone to protect his master plan to wipe out the Osage. Native American actress Lily Gladstone as Mollie was an apt choice. She had that grace in the initial part of the story, and slowly, as the character went through ill health, she pulled off the troubled phase very convincingly.

There are many things about the Indigenous people that a commoner might not know, like how differently privileged the Osage were from other Native American communities and how they were controlled by the White People in spending their own money. Rather than doing all this exposition through voiceovers or texts, Scorsese and Eric Roth create scenes that will be governed by the kind of control the white people had. Since the story is developing slowly and spanning over multiple years, the visual style has a very traditional approach with mostly static medium shots. The usage of silence was pretty good (It was so silent that I could hear songs from Leo happening on the next screen)

Killers of the Flower Moon is not necessarily that cinematically enthralling experience in terms of the drama in the content. But if you are a cinephile who has the eye to explore how a real incident can be depicted on screen with a cinematic appeal, you will be in awe of how they made an engaging drama that blended all the cultural nuances and character exploration through this film.

Final Thoughts

Martin Scorses's Killers of the Flower Moon stays with you because of the way it establishes the details of the true story and the culture while trying to narrate a cinematic story.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.