Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023, USA)

Killers of the Flower Moon is Martin Scorsese's latest opus, a three-and-a-half-hour epic about the dark underbelly of the American story. News of the project has been around for years at this point - we here at Cinephilic Musings read David Grann's non-fiction book upon which the film is based years ago. While those who have read Grann's book won't be surprised by the events transpiring in the film, Scorsese's script - co-written with Eric Roth - takes a noticeably more personal approach to the material. Here our view into the case is that of Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man returning from WWI to his home of Oklahoma, where his uncle William Hale (Robert De Niro) is an unofficial mayor. The third central figure is Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart, Ernest's Osage wife. 

Scorsese very clearly envisioned the film as a union between DiCaprio and De Niro (both of whom hadn't appeared onscreen together since DiCaprio was a child). DiCaprio feels a bit old to be playing the Ernest Burkhart part, and De Niro likewise feels a bit old in the Hale role. That said, the main draw of the film is to see the two legends playing off of one another.

Killers of the Flower Moon is an expansive late-stage work that will likely not become anyone's favorite Scorsese film. In many ways, the auteur is consciously rejecting some of the tropes and stylistic flourishes that he has become known for over the years. There are glimpses of this, however, and at its core Killers of the Flower Moon is something of a gangster movie - a film about bad people organizing bad things behind closed doors. Less attention is given to the historical origins of the FBI, which is the main story Grann is attracted to. 



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