Luke Geier reporter
The anticipation for Martin Scorsese’s 26th film, Killers of the Flower Moon, has undoubtedly been through the roof. The three-and-a-half-hour epic received rave reviews from critics in early screenings and even received a 9-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, which is considered the most prestigious film festival of all.
Adapted from the 2017 novel by David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon follows the tragic true story of the 1920s Osage murders in Oklahoma. The film follows Ernest Burkhart, played by 6-time Scorsese collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio, as he arrives in Osage-occupied Oklahoma in search of a job.
After being employed by his uncle William Hale, played by 10-time Scorsese collaborator and film legend Robert De Niro, Ernest becomes a driver, escorting a young Osage woman named Mollie Burkhart, played by Lily Gladstone. As their relationship develops, Ernest eventually asks Mollie for her hand in marriage.
Soon after this, the murders of the Osage people begin, leaving the Osage Oklahoma population devastated and fearful for their lives. As the murders continue, the pieces start to come together revealing that the main motive of the murders was to inherit the money that Native Americans had been thriving off for years because of the oil-dense land they settled on.
It’s a story of lies and deceit that could not have been directed by anyone else than Scorsese himself. In contrast to his last film, The Irishmen, which also held a three-and-a-half-hour runtime, Killers of the Flower Moon seems to fly by and never feels like a single scene is wasted. This could very well be because of the incredible performances of all three leading actors.
Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a perfect slow-burn performance that always keeps you wondering what the character might do next, and never misses a beat. While his performance throughout the movie is incredible, in the last third of the film, his raw emotion reaches its peak, as if he were waiting to explode.
Robert De Niro also delivers one of his best performances in recent years, and while it’s easy to praise De Niro, not even DiCaprio delivers a performance as convincingly evil as De Niro does with William Hale. De Niro steals the show in every frame he’s in and clearly understands the type of person he’s playing. If you don’t already have a reason to call Robert De Niro one of the greats, you can add his performance in Killers of the Flower Moon to the list.
One would be ridiculous not to hail Lily Gladstone’s performance as Mollie Burkhart as anything but sensational. It’s clear from the minute she’s first seen on screen with DiCaprio, that she’s going to deliver a tame but complex performance, and that’s just what she does. Her subtle performance brings incredible humanity to her character that slowly draws you in until you can’t take your eyes away, and the way she tackles grief is as real as it can get.
Overall, Martin Scorsese proves his filmmaking presence by adding Killers of the Flower Moon to his vast and already iconic catalog of movies. Make sure to see Killers of the Flower Moon in theaters now.