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Killers of the Flower Moon

Reviewed by: Jim O'Neill CONTRIBUTOR

Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS

Timeframe: 1920s USA

Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS

Cattleman William King Hale, a political boss of Osage County, Oklahoma who made his fortune through a mix of cattle ranching, unfair trade with Osage people, insurance fraud, and various murder and fraud schemes

Osage tribe of Native Americans (Osage County, Oklahoma)

Big oil wealth beneath American Indian land

Greed and ruthless scheming for profit

The evil in men’s hearts and the poison they spread

Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS

A major F.B.I. investigation involving J. Edgar Hoover

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Serial wanton murders of Osage tribal members to obtain their oil money, while local authorities turned a blind eye

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About the fall of mankind to worldwide depravity

What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Answer

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What is JUSTICE? What does the Bible say about it? Answer

Justice of God

In 1925, the United States Congress passed a law to bar the inheritance of Osage headrights by non-Osage people in order to curb the Osage Indian Murders.

For a follower of Christ, what is LOVE —a feeling, an emotion, or an action?

“For we brought nothing into the world just as we will be able to bring anything out of it… those who want to be rich are falling into a temptation and into a trap. And into many foolish and harmful desires which plunge them into ruin and destruction.” — (1 Timothy Chapter 6-9)
“Abundance of riches will never pay our ransom to God. That price is far too high. When we die , we take none of what we accumulated or hoarded with us. When the rich man dies, his wealth will not follow him down.” — Psalm 49

M artin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” is epic in its length, its scale, and its undoing.

The film is based on the non-fiction bestseller of the same name by David Grann. A journalist by profession, Grann relates the Osage saga with detached precision allowing unfolding events and mounting evidence to point to a conclusion whose surface defies belief but whose depths cry out for acknowledgment and atonement.

Scorsese , on the other hand, goes off track by straying from a firm narrative, losing focus by morphing an austere Western setting into a kaleidoscopic dreamscape, and most of all, by expanding one crime, or set of crimes, into an entire legacy. When a singular evil such as the one depicted in this film becomes comparable or generalizable, its singularity and its ability to alarm and to warn is diluted.

The crime perpetrated on the Native Americans of Osage County, Oklahoma in the early 1920s stands alone in its barbarity and inhumanity. Scorsese would have us believe that this horror is not just a stain on the country’s heritage, but an emblem of what the frontier represented, and what American civilization still represents.

That’s a reach, one that is unfair, and unfounded.

Scorsese’s prior films, especially the ones about American gangsters, directed a cold eye toward wrongdoing, yet they reveled in the almost irresistible allure of crime. The tracking shot in the opening scene of “ Goodfellas ” makes us dizzy as we take in every temptation known to man, warning us but teasing us at the same time. On the one hand, he tells us, we’re headed to perdition; on the other, there’s a heck of a lot of money, and fun, to be had along the way.

That same duality does not exist in the tragic story of the Osage Native American tribe, or for that matter, in any Western. In such a landscape, unfamiliar territory to him, Scorsese creates some memorable moments, but overall, he seems adrift and, despite a huge budget to cater to his every artistic wile, is sadly out of his element.

In the 1870s the Osage Indian tribe had been driven from its ancestral land in Kansas and resettled in Oklahoma on property that was rocky, barren and not suitable for farming and hunting. After being given ownership of that land they discovered that it sat upon huge oil deposits. Prospectors then descended upon Osage, but to extract oil from the ground they had to rent leases from the Osage tribespeople. The white citizens of the county resented the wealth of the “red millionaires,” and set up guardianships that placed the Native Americans under their thumbs. The Osage could not appropriate or spend any of the revenue from the sale of their oil unless it was approved by a white citizen. The guardians manipulated and exploited their charges, but even that graft had its limits. The guardian had no hold on the actual land rights which could not be stolen or even bought. Those rights could only be inherited.

The film deals mainly with a white family’s attempt to seize an Osage family fortune by deceit , theft and murder . William Hale ( Robert De Niro , an Oklahoma cattle rancher, enlists his dim-witted and obsequious nephew, Ernest Burkhart ( Leonardo DiCaprio ) to marry Mollie ( Lily Gladstone ), a wealthy Osage woman, for Ernest and his uncle to inherit her estate. Hale’s follow-up plan is to do away with Mollie and her family so Ernest can inherit her fortune. Mollie, played with quiet dignity by Lily Gladstone in a standout performance that betters DiCaprio’s bloated and self-conscious one, longs for love and fulfillment, but is wary of promises made by her husband and his uncle. She is smart and perceptive enough to see through their sweet talk, but she is nonetheless willing to put blinders on to forge stability and hope.

During Ernest and Mollie’s courtship and marriage, Mollie’s sister is shot to death, and her mother dies of an unidentified “wasting illness.” Soon afterwards Mollie develops the same illness. As similar unexplained deaths among Mollie’s family and other Osage natives mount, none of which generate a serious local police investigation, the FBI, then in its infancy, is called in to find a cause for the mysterious tragedies. The bureau’s young director, J. Edgar Hoover sends a former Texas Ranger, Tom White ( Jesse Plemons ) to Osage to investigate and solve the murders.

Scorsese handles the developing crime and corruption phase of the story well. He creates a seething cauldron of envy, greed, anger and malice in which the evildoers forget many things, most of all, that none of us are landowners, but tenants in a vineyard leased to us. We can choose to bear fruit on that land, or we can, as Isaiah warned, become the wild vines, that produce only ruin. The director shines in imagery that reveals cultural rot in a way that is more visceral than analytical, but when the real crime-fighting gumshoe work needs to take front and center, he wobbles.

I don’t doubt that Scorsese wanted to avoid bogging down his story with procedural detective minutiae, but that doesn’t necessarily have to put a drag on a movie, especially a long one whose duration already has a built-in drag. Zooming in on the details of police work can enrich a crime story as it did in Kurosawa’s 1963 film, “High and Low,” also a long one, but always riveting, one of the best crime procedurals ever filmed. Scorsese’s movie staggers during those sequences, losing its momentum and its grip.

The ensuing trial sequences are even more lumbering. Most of John Lithgow’s portrayal of the prosecuting attorney is done vocally without any visual exchange between him and the defendant. It’s a performance that could have been done in a sound studio and mailed in. The courtroom scenes are murky and lack any sense of atmosphere, drama, or even coherence, and their conclusions don’t sting the way they should. Worst of all, instead of ending with written words on the screen that modestly tell what happens to the title characters in his film, Scorsese turns his finale into a radio serial extravaganza that in its grandiosity puzzles more than it illuminates. Instead of a sober and dignified closure he opts for “puttin’ on the ritz.”

Mr. Scorsese’s films are richly dressed, as if made of purple and fine linen, but the more sumptuous they become, the more vacuous they feel. He reaches for Icarus-level heights, and at times he attains them, without burning himself, but there’s a loftiness, and an affectedness in this film and in his other recent efforts that overwhelm, and after a while, fatigue.

The story of the Osage Native Americans is a sobering account of how prejudice can infect a mind to the extent that injustice can be called justice , and genocide, emancipation. It is not a big step from forgetting who reminded us that “I am the Lord, your God” to forgetting everything that followed about coveting , stealing and killing .

The Osage story has historical significance, but it is also transcendent. The Indian culture understands that, refusing to separate its corporal from its spiritual understanding of existence. Scorsese must feel that same anthropological pull, but he shies away from it, in the same way he did with the feckless confessional ending of “The Irishman.”

When the time for tears and penance comes, the fiery director’s purpose often goes up in smoke. And his smoke signals, unlike those of the Indian tribes he portrays, are, intentionally or not, hazy and hard to read.

  • Violence: Very Heavy
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Very Heavy
  • Profane language: Heavy
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Heavy
  • Sex: Moderate
  • Wokeism: Minor
  • Nudity: None
  • Occult: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers .

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

The Collision

Killers of the Flower Moon (Christian Movie Review) 

Verdict: While not always easy to watch, legendary director Martin Scorsese has delivered a masterfully crafted, relentlessly grim, and thematically challenging exploration of greed and the destructive wages of sin.

About The Movie

In recent years, director Martin Scorsese has made frequent headlines for his provocative and disparaging quotes about superhero movies and modern blockbusters. With his new film, he is reminding audiences that he is far more than a grumpy old man—he is a living legend. Killers of the Flower Moon is an emphatic demonstration that cinema can be more than hollow spectacle. While not always easy to watch, legendary director Martin Scorsese has delivered a masterfully crafted, relentlessly grim, and thematically challenging exploration of greed and the destructive wages of sin.    

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

The story—based on a 2017 bestselling novel— tells the tragic historical events of the Osage Nation. The discovery of oil on their lands instantly elevates them to being some of the richest people in the world. That blessing soon becomes a curse as greedy men scheme to claim that money through strategic marriages and coldblooded murders.     

There is some irony that the movie trailers that played before the film at my screening included multiple glossy, CGI-filled superhero spectacles; the type of films Scorsese famously deemed, “theme park rides.” By tackling weightier subject matter, this film is a case study for his thesis that cinema can offer more than popcorn-munching diversion. Killers of the Flower Moon is not an “entertaining” movie. It is consistently engrossing and never boring, but little about the film aims to please. In other words, it is a movie that gives audiences what Scorsese believes they need to see, rather than what they may want to see.  

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

Killers of the Flower Moon attempts to slowly break viewers down over the course of its mammoth 3:30 runtime. It’s not an inspirational story, and viewers hoping for at least a “feel good” ending should brace themselves for more heartache. Speaking of the runtime, you certainly feel the length, and it is perhaps 30 minutes too long.

At the same time, the elongated story may be a rare example where the audience fatigue is effective. The story is allowed ample space to breathe, resisting the temptation to reduce the material into an exhilarating action thriller. Instead, the slow and methodical pacing serves to shine a more profound light on the cancerous destruction of sin and greed. As the epidemic of greed and sin ravages the Osage community, viewers will yearn for Scorsese to release the throttle, but he never does, even up to the final words of the movie. It’s an exhausting experience, and I think that is the point.     

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

Without action set pieces, Killers of the Flower Moon relies heavily on dramatic acting. The expansive cast is more than up to the challenge. Scorsese mainstays Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro are both excellent. As the film’s title suggests, the focus is often on the killers. Putting antagonists at the forefront of a movie is a risky endeavor, but both actors are captivating enough to pull it off despite being unlikeable characters.    

The film’s standout performer is Lily Gladstone who plays Mollie (the wife of DiCaprio’s character). I suspect Gladstone’s name will be widely featured at the next Academy Awards. She is the beating heart of the film and one of the few truly good-hearted characters, a helpless sheep surrounded by hungry wolves. Her slow deterioration from both physical sickness and internal grief is poignant imagery and a metaphor of the consequences of sin and injustice.  

In the end, Killers of the Flower Moon is an effectively grim spotlight on a dark moment in American history. It is a challenging movie that demands much of viewers. There is an important place for flashy blockbusters and comic book flicks that allow audiences to escape the worries of the real world and find solace in the idealization of goodness and virtue. But, as Killers of the Flower Moon demonstrates, there is also a powerful role for cinema to showcase the unrelenting and destructive power of sin and evil. It is a movie that confronts a tragic evil in our nation’s past, while also reminding audiences that the same sinful depravity lies in the heart of all men. Such a reminder is not always enjoyable in the moment, but sometimes the hardest truths are the most profitable.

For Consideration

       

Language: There are several F-words, perhaps a dozen other profanities, and several abuses of “God.” There are multiple instances of derogatory terms.   

Violence: The violence is occasionally gruesome but never sensationalized. It is appropriately vile, rather than mere spectacle. Several characters are shot through the chest or the head (with splatters of blood). After one corpse is discovered, the doctors begin sawing into her skull (allegedly to look for the bullet). It is later implied that they also flayed and cut the body into pieces. Several characters die in an explosion leaving them dead or bloodied. When a woman killed in the explosion is lifted, the back portion of her head flaps open. A dismembered hand belonging to another woman is also discovered on the ground, and it is remarked that the investigators are still discovering pieces of the woman. One of the murdered women is said to have been pregnant. 

Sexuality: There is talk about sexual conquests, with one character confessing that he is “greedy” regarding his desire for women. A woman is accused of “opening her legs” to multiple men. Some men make crude remarks and gestures toward women. A husband and wife kiss in bed, and he jokes that they are going to “wake the children,” but the following sexual activity is not shown.       

Spirituality: Instances of religion and spirituality are frequent throughout. There are several scenes which depict the native spirituality of the Osage people. Several women are visited by an owl that is said to indicate their imminent death (whether the owl is a spiritual vision or a hallucination is not clear). When one Osage woman dies, she is shown in a dream-like scene being escorted by her ancestors into the afterlife. At the same time, the native spirituality is intermingled with Catholicism. Mollie expresses a Catholic faith and is shown attending church and confessing her fears and concerns to the priest. Many of the other Osage people also speak about “the Lord” and seem to have adopted or incorporated some of the Catholic religion into their own belief system. Several of the white men quote scripture and publicly pray, although their evil actions expose these sentiments as hypocrisy.   

Engage The Film

Greed and the wages of sin  .

“For the love of money is the root of all evil which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 610). 

“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). 

Killers of the Flower Moon is a grim exploration of these two scriptures. It is a somber cautionary tale about how greed leads to sin and sin leads to death—both literally and figuratively. One advantage of such a lengthy runtime is that Scorsese is able to depict the slow descent into sin. Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio’s character) is not a classic anti-hero, since the amount of blood on his hands strips him of any heroism. Yet, unlike his depraved uncle (played by De Niro), he is at least a conflicted antagonist.  

His first crime is a simple robbery of some jewels (which he promptly loses in a game of cards). At one point he declares, “I love money! Almost as much as my own wife!” That declaration is soon put to the test. His desire for money inspires him to be complicit in increasingly awful schemes and deeds. He clearly enjoys the financial rewards, but as the murders and deceit comes closer and closer to impacting his own family, he begins to waver. Despite the moral bankruptcy of his character, he truly does love his wife and his children.  

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

“No one can serve two masters….you cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Ernest claims to be a Catholic, but Mollie chides that he never attends church. As a result, he is shown attending a service. Unfortunately, despite this promising start, he repeatedly chooses to serve money over God. In one scene, a Bible is removed from a podium for Ernest to lean against it and accept his uncle’s skewed justice. It’s a symbolic moment, as he chooses to submit to the judgment of sinful man rather than of a righteous God.  

Ernest is a man who simply cannot ever make the right decision, despite evidence of at least some internal conflict. Even at the end of the film when beginning to show some signs of repentance, he sadly reveals where his heart truly lies. 

Killers of the Flower Moon does not offer viewers much hope. There is no miraculous third-act Christian conversion, and the characters unjustly treated never do receive justice (at least on this earth). Yet, by dwelling on the depravity of man and the death that sin brings on this earth, Killers of the Flower Moon ultimately demonstrates our need for a savior and rescue from beyond it.

Daniel Blackaby

Daniel holds a PhD in "Christianity and the Arts" from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author/co-author of multiple books and he speaks in churches and schools across the country on the topics of Christian worldview, apologetics, creative writing, and the Arts.

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by Stephen Hayes

My church film club buddies and I decided against going to see this mainly as it’s so long, and sounds pretty relentlessly grim as well. Thanks for the review.

Pre-evangelism these days mainly seems to be showcasing the wages of sin, still it needs to be done.

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christian movie review killers of the flower moon

Movie Review: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

NEW YORK (OSV News) – Emotional ambiguity pervades the dramatization “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Paramount/Apple TV+). Epic yet intimate, director and co-writer Martin Scorsese’s masterful recounting of real-life events in 1920s Oklahoma is too gritty for kids, but deeply rewarding for grown-ups and possibly acceptable for older teens.

As relatively few viewers may know, shortly before the turn of the 20th century, oil was discovered on land owned by the indigenous Osage Nation. By the dawn of the Jazz Age, the windfall that followed had brought the Native Americans prosperity. But it had also excited violent envy and greed among some of the area’s whites.

Stepping into the midst of this volatile blend of good fortune and malice comes returning World War I veteran Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio). The uncertainty characteristic of the story takes hold when Ernest meets strong-willed, wise Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone).

Ernest’s cattle rancher uncle Bill Hale (Robert De Niro), a local bigwig, points out the economic advantage to be gained by marrying an Osage woman who, like Mollie, has a headright to a share of the petroleum profits. But the screenplay, which Scorsese penned with Eric Roth, also establishes that Ernest and Mollie do genuinely fall for each other before rapidly tying the knot.

There’s a lengthening shadow hovering over the Osage community as they do so, however. A series of initially uninvestigated deaths have taken place that hardly seem attributable to natural causes. The remainder of the film, adapted from David Grann’s 2017 bestseller, is devoted to exploring the effects of this ongoing rash of fatalities on Ernest, Mollie and Bill.

By the time Federal agent Tom White (Jesse Plemons) arrives to delve into the mystery, Scorsese has presented us with a panorama of the time and place that serves as the backdrop to an intense tale of love, corruption and racial hatred. Top-flight writing, acting and cinematography all combine to make his outsized, three-and-a-half hour movie memorable.

Interestingly, Mollie is shown to be a devout Catholic who nonetheless practices various rituals traditional among the Osage. We’re not given enough evidence, though, to judge whether this combination represents inspired do-it-yourself inculturation or some unacceptable form of syncretism.

Mollie’s genuine faith stands in stark contrast to the religious hypocrisy of one of the other central figures. And it may account for the aura of tranquility she manages to maintain throughout the unfolding tragedy by which she – along with many others – is eventually victimized.

Mollie’s enduring stillness at the center of a human storm is just one of the powerful impressions viewers will take away from this subtle and unsettling saga. The fate of Ernest’s Everyman character, as he makes decisive moral choices that typify, in microcosm, a consistent theme in American history, is another. Overall, Scorsese’s audience will be left with much to ponder.

The film contains brief but graphic episodes of gory violence, gruesome sights, a scene of marital sensuality, several uses of profanity, a few milder oaths and occasional rough and crude language. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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christian movie review killers of the flower moon

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

"a missed opportunity for a new kind of scorsese movie".

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

What You Need To Know:

In KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON, Director Martin Scorsese focuses on the least interesting elements of what could have been an innovative drama. The FBI agent who broke the

Miscellaneous Immorality: Very strong miscellaneous immorality includes a man marries a woman for profit to inherit her oil rights, characters rob drivers on the highway, gambling, greed and obsessive love of money pervade the story, some racism is expressed toward Native Americans, the word “Jew” is used as an insult, a character is a high-ranking Freemason, and two main characters commit insurance fraud, but are caught.

More Detail:

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON presents an inside look at the conspiracy responsible for the infamous Osage Indian murders in 1920s Oklahoma. Led by a powerful insurance agent, a gang of white men murder dozens of Osage Indians to acquire the oil rights to their land. The booming oil industry in Oklahoma made the Osage Indians simultaneously the wealthiest and most murdered population group per capita in the world. Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, both Scorsese regulars, star as Ernest Burkhart and William Hale, a nephew and uncle who craft a scheme to acquire no fewer than 13 individual oil rights, which collectively would bring them millions of dollars per year in today’s money.

To set the plan in motion, Burkhart marries into the Kile family, made up of matriarch Lizzie Q (who had three headrights due to her late husband’s previous marriage), and her four daughters. Each daughter has their own oil right, in addition to six others owned by one daughter’s husband, Bill Smith.

After Burkhart marries Mollie Kile, he and Hale begin systematically murdering Mollie’s relatives, including her sisters, to consolidate the family’s oil rights solely onto Mollie’s shoulders. After Mollie gets all the oil rights, point Hale (without Burkhart’s knowledge) can poison the already-sickly Mollie and ensure that all 13 oil rights pass onto Burkhart as her widower. The plan mostly succeeds, although the conspirators lose out on Bill Smith’s oil rights because, through a quirk of fate, he survives their murder attempt long enough for the rights to pass onto his adult daughter from a prior marriage, who lives in Arkansas, which is out of Hale and Burkhart’s reach.

Nevertheless, the criminal masterminds become incredibly wealthy, until the fledgling Bureau of Investigation (soon to have “Federal” tacked onto the front of its name) sends Special Agent Tom White to investigate the murder epidemic. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] Eventually, Hale and Burkhart are brought to justice, as are their henchmen, and the movie’s epilogue reveals that they both later died alone and, in Burkhart’s case at least, completely destitute.

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON is about the wrong thing. This is primarily because it is one of the only things Martin Scorsese makes movies about: the corruptive power of greed, and the vice’s inevitable ruin of the life of anyone who worships it. CASINO, GOODFELLOWS, THE DEPARTED, THE IRISHMAN, and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET all explore this theme. This formula has made Scorsese one of the most acclaimed directors who has ever lived, and he has deviated from it on occasion. However, Scorsese keeps returning to this primary thesis, which, in the case of this movie, is to its detriment.

The reason for that is that KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON almost completely misses the most captivating aspect of the story of the Osage Indian murders, which is not the life of its chief perpetrators. The more fascinating aspects of the story are the incomprehensible, racially motivated failure of the American legal system to adequately respond to the horrifyingly frequent killings for several years after they first began, followed by the historic impact that the Bureau of Investigation’s solving of these crimes had on that same system. After all, the young J. Edgar Hoover, whose achievements were yet to come, owed practically his whole career to the Bureau’s investigation of the Osage Indian murders. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON should not have been another Scorsese crime flick. It should have been a tense legal drama and an origin story for one of the most important law enforcement bodies in history.

Tom White, Jesse Plemons’ Texas-Ranger-turned-federal-investigator, was actually an excellent choice for a primary character in the story, which makes it even more mystifying why Scorsese chose to relegate his contribution to the movie’s final hour. White’s massive investigative operation, relying primarily on numerous undercover agents in Osage County, could have provided thrilling material for KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON. The young Hoover, embarking on his meteoric rise to become one of the most powerful men of the 20th Century, could have made part of this. Also, John Lithgow and Brendan Fraser could have been top-billed supporting actors in their same roles as the prosecution and defense of the murderers in court, as the legal battle to put the murderers behind bars that consumed only a few minutes of screentime in KILLERS actually took three years.

De Niro would have fit his new role of primary villain to a T. De Niro’s Hale, known for his cunning orchestration of Osage County’s criminal underworld, could have proven the perfect narrative foil to J. Edgar Hoover, who was a similar mastermind on the other side of the law. The rest of the supporting cast could have been filled out by Hoover and White’s scrappy band of special agents, impersonating a wide range of professions and social roles throughout the county. This combination courtroom drama and detective thriller would have concluded explosively, as Hoover finally got his longed-for appointment as Director of the Bureau, and Hale was carted off to his life sentence in prison, where he was ironically by none other than Tom White, who transferred to the Bureau of Prisons during the legal fracas.

This “cinema speculation” may be futile, since the picture is already made and ready to be shipped out to theaters this month. However, it reveals the desperate need of Martin Scorsese’s work for a greater diversity of theme and subject matter. There are only so many ways that even one of the greats can tell the exact same story before it becomes canned, trite and, ultimately, boring. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON could have marked the beginning of a bold new frontier for Scorsese as an auteur. Instead, it’s been turned into a comfortable, banal dud.

The moral content in KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON leaves much to be desired. Although Hale and Burkhart’s greed and violence are roundly condemned, there is no redemption or growth out of this immoral way of living. All of the terrible people in the movie stay terrible people at the end. None of the characters who could be a role model in this movie, like the FBI investigators, are explored with enough depth to actually be a role model worth observing. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON deserves significant caution from an entertainment, artistic and moral perspective, for all viewers. Thus, Director Martin Scorsese crafts a banal, overlong story, with some extreme violence, foul language and a lack of redemptive values or good role models to contrast the movie’s greedy, vicious criminal protagonists.

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christian movie review killers of the flower moon

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‘Killers of the Flower Moon’: An admirable yet vexingly uneven film

Less whodunit than who-didn’t-do-it, martin scorsese’s latest drama does away with the suspense of david grann’s nonfiction book about a series of murders of osage indians.

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

The four most dreaded words for a film critic are, “What did you think?” And never have they been more problematic than when it comes to “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Martin Scorsese’s eagerly anticipated adaptation of David Grann’s 2017 book of the same name.

In that gripping, magisterial account, Grann chronicled in sickening detail how a group of Osage Indians in 1920s Oklahoma were exploited, terrorized and murdered in a series of mysterious crimes. It wasn’t a complete surprise that the culprits turned out to be the White neighbors — politicians, businessmen, friends and even loved ones — who pretended to be the Osages’ allies and protectors. Although the literal crime would eventually be solved by agents of a nascent organization called the Bureau of Investigation (later known as the FBI), what propelled “Killers of the Flower Moon” was Grann’s carefully calibrated way of widening the scope of the malfeasance, as what seemed initially to be a lively, pluralistic boom town morphed into a microcosm of American capitalistic expansion at its most ruthless, rapacious and racist.

Martin Scorsese isn’t glorifying violence. He’s reckoning with it.

Scorsese, working from a script he co-wrote with Eric Roth, does away with the suspense Grann generated so expertly in his book: After a prologue depicting a Native American funeral ritual, and a newsreel-like introduction explaining the vast oil reserves that made the Osage the wealthiest people in the country, he gets the narrative underway on a train carrying recent World War I veteran Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) to Fairfax, Okla., where he intends to seek his fortune under the guidance of his wildly successful uncle, Bill “King” Hale (Robert De Niro). Hale effectively sets up the scheme within the first 20 minutes of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” explaining to the none-too-bright Ernest that the Osage are “the finest, most beautiful people on God’s Earth” before adding that there’s money to be made in laying claim to the Indians’ rights to the oil under their tribal lands — by way of marriage, murder or any means necessary.

Scorsese’s choice to lay out the plan so bluntly deprives “Killers of the Flower Moon” of the crucial element of suspense: By the time the Bureau of Investigation’s Tom White (Jesse Plemons) shows up two hours in, the audience knows full well whodunit (as Scorsese has repeated several times in interviews, this story is a who- didn’t -do-it). What we’re left with is a dreadful, sometimes surpassingly dull taxonomy of wickedness, as the greedy, lunkheaded Ernest succumbs to Hale’s venal spell, while also falling in love with and marrying an Osage woman named Mollie.

Played with serene knowingness by Lily Gladstone, Mollie is the moral conscience of “Killers of the Flower Moon.” But she’s mostly a victim, meaning that she’s often relegated to a role of passive, if bitterly affecting, suffering. The doers here are the bad guys, much like in Scorsese pictures past, but now their impunity isn’t a matter of escapist wish fulfillment and scoundrel-y derring-do. Instead, it possesses what it’s probably had all along: the petty, plodding rhythms that befit evil at its most banal. With his mouth drawn down into a marionette frown, DiCaprio delivers one of his mumble-mouthed, anti-charismatic portrayals (more “ The Revenant ” than “ The Wolf of Wall Street ”), while De Niro embodies Hale like a down-home version of one of his New York goombahs. Scorsese lards the supporting cast with musicians like Jason Isbell and Jack White; by far the most impressive is Sturgill Simpson, who provides a welcome gleam of sly humor as one of Hale’s moonshining henchmen. (The musical score, by the late Robbie Robertson, consists mostly of a brooding bass line ostinato.)

There’s no doubt that “Killers of the Flower Moon” reflects a shift in energy that is defensible — even necessary — from an ethical point of view. Narratively, that pivot results in a film that, it must be said, feels leached of the energy and vigor viewers associate with Scorsese at his most exhilarating. In recent years, with films like “Silence” and “The Irishman,” fans have been forced to adjust their metabolisms and tamp their hunger for vicarious thrills. Like those films, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is a slower, more methodical, sometimes more boring affair. To be sure, the broad contours align with Scorsese’s most famous crime pictures: There are moments when Hale’s plans resemble the heists and hits of “Goodfellas,” and there are even a couple of shot-for-shot echoes. But here, the villainy is muted, as dirtified and desaturated as cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto’s color palette. As the brazenness and bodies pile up, the scams are no longer flights of hubristic fancy; they’re chores to be endured. (No Copacabana tracking shots or “Layla” piano solos here.)

If “Killers of the Flower Moon” isn’t as purely pleasurable to watch as Scorsese’s most canonical movies, that doesn’t mean it lacks beauty, or even audacity. Some of the film’s most transcendent moments capture the swirl of life in Osage County, from its weddings to its family meals; many feature Mollie’s mother, Lizzie (Tantoo Cardinal), whose experiences on the brink of death are represented in stunning flights of magical realism. The chaotic town of Fairfax, where people ride on horses and racecars down the main street, is a fascinating jumble of Old West and modernity, its veneer of optimism and progress queasily coexisting with the Ku Klux Klan and White-led race riots in Tulsa, just 65 miles away. As in the book, the subtext of “Killers of the Flower Moon” is what might have been, as a brief dream of tolerance and coexistence curdles into an engulfing exercise in cultural and financial theft.

As a work of history and heightened political consciousness, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is beyond reproach; it dramatizes a grievous truth — about the depravity, destruction and self-deception that undergird the American idea — that has been buried for too long, especially in movies. But that nobility of purposes raises uncomfortable questions about what makes for riveting cinema — or at least a riveting Martin Scorsese movie. At 3½ hours, the movie tests the audience’s tolerance for episodic rehearsals of bad deeds done; by the time we get to the inevitable courtroom drama (featuring a distractingly cast Brendan Fraser), the proceedings feel rote and anticlimactic.

In interviews, Scorsese has explained how he and Roth rewrote Roth’s original script for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” to give the Osage more space but also to tell their story from the inside. Despite those efforts, his point of view never gets deeper than that of an alert, caring observer. That’s despite an obvious emotional attachment to Mollie, a connection that becomes apparent in the film’s epilogue, in which the director creates a set piece that feels both emotionally distancing and movingly on point. It’s startling, self-conscious and strangely of a piece with the admirable, vexingly uneven movie that has come before: In other words, it’s totally Scorsese.

R. At area theaters, Contains violence, some grisly images and coarse language. 206 minutes.

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“Can you find the wolves in this picture,” Ernest Burkhardt ( Leonardo DiCaprio ) reads aloud as he works his way through a children’s book early in Martin Scorsese ’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.” The wolves aren’t really hidden at all, and they won’t be in the film that follows either, a masterful historical drama about evil operating in plain sight. One of the most disturbing things about Scorsese’s ambitious adaptation of David Grann ’s non-fiction book of the same name is how little of its vile behavior stays in the shadows. This is the story of men who treated murder almost mundanely, issuing orders to have people killed like they would order a drink at the bar. Scorsese walks that fine line between telling a very specific story of a couple at the heart of a tragedy and commenting on the larger nature of evil. The wolves in "Killers of the Flower Moon" don’t hesitate to think that what they’re doing might be wrong as long as it profits them in the end.  

After being pushed off their property to the presumed wasteland of Oklahoma around the turn of the last century, the Osage Nation was stunned to find itself the recipient of the earthly gift of oil, making them the wealthiest group of people in the country per capita relatively overnight. Naturally, the people who had claimed a country they never owned wanted a piece of this action, leading to a battle for land in the region, a conflict that turned a man named William King Hale ( Robert De Niro ) into a legend. While just a cattle baron himself, Hale was a kingmaker in the Osage region. He was able to play the political games that made him an ally to both the Osage and the white people in the area while working behind the scenes to line his pockets. De Niro gives one of the best performances of his career as a man who prefers to be called "King," rivetingly capturing the kind of sociopath who can sell murder with a smile. He doesn’t stab you in the back. He looks you in the eyes as he does it.

Hale senses someone easily manipulated in his nephew Ernest, who has returned home from the war, ready to be a good soldier for a new cause. Ernest starts as a driver in the area for the wealthy Osage, which leads him to Mollie ( Lily Gladstone ). The two marry just before Mollie’s family and other members of the Osage population are murdered one after another. Mollie’s sister Anna ( Cara Jade Myers ), who is married to Ernest’s brother Bryan ( Scott Shepherd ), is found shot by a creek on the same day that another Osage Nation man is shot. Mollie loses a sister to something called “Wasting Disease,” and discovers that she has diabetes herself, leading to bedrest that makes her an easy target for the evil growing in this region, possibly even in the heart of her husband.

Ernest, Mollie, and Hale are the trio around which everything in Eric Roth & Scorsese’s script orbits. But this tapestry of a historical drama is populated with dozens of other memorable characters and familiar faces, including Jesse Plemons as a BOI agent who would lead the investigation into the Osage murders,  John Lithgow and Brendan Fraser as conflicting attorneys in the case, Tantoo Cardinal as Mollie’s mother, and a fascinating array of musicians turned actors that include Charlie Musselwhite, Sturgill Simpson , Pete Yorn , Jack White , and a memorable Jason Isbell , who gets a juicy role as Bill Smith , a brother-in-law of Ernest who could be trouble. 

“Killers of the Flower Moon” may not be a traditional gangster picture, but it's completely in tune with the stories of corrupt, violent men that Scorsese has explored for a half-century. And yet there’s also a sense of age in Scorsese’s work here, the feeling that he's using this horrifying true story to interrogate how we got to where we are a hundred years later. How did we allow blood to fertilize the soil of this country? Scorsese and Roth took a book that’s essentially about the formation of the F.B.I. by way of the investigation into the Osage murders and shifted the storytelling to a more personal perspective for both Mollie and Ernest. Through their story, the film doesn’t just present injustice but reveals how intrinsic it was to the formation of wealth and inequity in this country. It hums with commentary on how this nonchalant violence against people deemed lesser pervaded a century of horror. The references to the Tulsa Massacre and the KKK aren’t incidental. It's all part of the big picture—one of people who subjugate because it's so easy for them to do so.

Of course, Scorsese's visions don’t work without his team of collaborators, and he’s brought in some of the best to tell this tale. Rodrigo Prieto ’s cinematography is sweeping when it needs to capture the vast territory of the Osage Nation but can also be intense with a sweaty close-up. Robbie Robertson ’s thrumming score is practically a character, giving the film a heartbeat that adds tension to its notable runtime. This story wouldn't have nearly the same momentum with a traditional, classical score. Finally, Thelma Schoonmaker is partially responsible for Scorsese’s sense of rhythm as director, and “Killers of the Flower Moon” is one of her most notable accomplishments. Some will crack jokes about the editing given the runtime of Scorsese’s longest film but think of the scope of this multi-year saga and how deftly Schoonmaker helps pace the final piece, pushing us forward through our nation’s violent history without ever losing the thread of this complex saga.

As for performance, there’s inherent power to seeing Scorsese’s two muses act opposite each other for the first time since " This Boy's Life " as De Niro and DiCaprio fuel each other’s performances with what's basically another tale of an abusive father. But Gladstone will be the revelation for most people. The standout of “ Certain Women ” knows exactly how to play this role, never leaning into melodrama and always grounding her character in the truth of the moment instead of playing a stand-in for all Indigenous victims. There are times when it feels like “Killers of the Flower Moon” could spin out into a broader political statement, but the performances, especially Gladstone’s, keep the film in the truth of character. The whole ensemble understands this element, playing the reality of the situation instead of treating it like a history lesson. Mollie Burkhardt didn’t know her saga would help found the FBI or bring light to injustice a century later. She just wanted to survive and love like so many who were robbed of those basic human rights.

In the end, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is like a puzzle—each creative piece does its part to form the complete picture. When it’s put together, it’s depressingly easy to see the wolves. The question now is, what do we do when we find them?

In theaters on October 20 th and on Apple TV+ at a later date.

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Film credits.

Killers of the Flower Moon movie poster

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

Rated R for violence, some grisly images, and language.

206 minutes

Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart

Robert De Niro as William King Hale

Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart

Jesse Plemons as Tom White

Tantoo Cardinal as Lizzie Q

Cara Jade Myers as Anna Kyle Brown

JaNae Collins as Rita

Jillian Dion as Minnie

William Belleau as Henry Roan

Louis Cancelmi as Kelsie Morrison

Tatanka Means as John Wren

Michael Abbott Jr. as Agent Frank Smith

Pat Healy as Agent John Burger

Scott Shepherd as Bryan Burkhart

Jason Isbell as Bill Smith

Sturgill Simpson as Henry Grammer

John Lithgow as Prosecutor Peter Leaward

Brendan Fraser as W.S. Hamilton

  • Martin Scorsese

Writer (book)

  • David Grann

Cinematographer

  • Rodrigo Prieto
  • Thelma Schoonmaker
  • Robbie Robertson

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Master 'Flower Moon' filmmaker Scorsese says he’s still learning

“Killers of the Flower Moon,” which opens Friday in theaters, is the latest feature of Martin Scorsese’s ambitious filmmaking. His passion for cinema as an art form is stronger than ever. “Because there is no limit. The limit is in yourself,” he says.

  • By Jake Coyle Associated Press

October 20, 2023 | New York

A moment from years ago keeps replaying in Martin Scorsese’s mind.

When Akira Kurosawa was given an honorary Academy Award in 1990, the then 80-year-old Japanese filmmaker of “Seven Samurai” and “Ikiru,” in his brief, humble speech, said he hadn’t yet grasped the full essence of cinema.

It struck Mr. Scorsese, then in post-production on “Goodfellas,” as a curious thing for such a master filmmaker to say. It wasn’t until Scorsese also turned 80 that he began to comprehend Mr. Kurosawa’s words. Even now, Mr. Scorsese says he’s just realizing the possibilities of cinema.

“I’ve lived long enough to be his age and I think I understand now,” Mr. Scorsese said in a recent interview. “Because there is no limit. The limit is in yourself. These are just tools, the lights, and the camera and that stuff. How much further can you explore who you are?”

Mr. Scorsese’s lifelong exploration has seemingly only grown deeper and more self-examining with time. In recent years, his films have swelled in scale and ambition as he’s plumbed the nature of faith (“Silence”) and loss (“The Irishman”).

His latest, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” about the systematic killing of Osage Nation members for their oil-rich land in the 1920s, is in many ways far outside Mr. Scorsese’s own experience. But as a story of trust and betrayal – the film is centered on the loving yet treacherous relationship between Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone), a member of a larger Osage family, and Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), a World War I veteran who comes to work for his corrupt uncle (Robert De Niro) – it’s a profoundly personal film that maps some of the themes of Mr. Scorsese’s gangster films onto American history.

Read the Monitor’s review of “ Killers of the Flower Moon .”

“Killers of the Flower Moon,” a $200-million, 206-minute epic produced by Apple that’s in theaters Friday, is an audacious big swing by Mr. Scorsese to continue his kind of ambitious, personal filmmaking on the largest scale at a time when such grand, big-screen statements are a rarity.

Mr. Scorsese considers “Killers of the Flower Moon” to be “an internal spectacle.” The Oklahoma-set film, adapted from David Grann’s 2017 bestseller, might be called his first Western. But while developing Mr. Grann’s book, which chronicles the Osage murders and the birth of the FBI, Mr. Scorsese came to the realization that centering the film on federal investigator Tom White was a familiar type of Western.

“I realized: ‘You don’t do that. Your Westerns are the Westerns you saw in the late ’40s and early ’50s, that’s it. [Director Sam] Peckinpah finished that. ‘Wild Bunch,’ that’s the end. Now they’re different,” he says. “It represented a certain time in who we were as a nation and a certain time in the world – and the end of the studio system. It was a genre. That folklore is gone.”

Mr. Scorsese, after conversations with Leonardo DiCaprio, pivoted to the story of Ernest and Mollie and a perspective closer to the Osage Nation. Consultations with the tribe continued and expanded to include accurately capturing the language, traditional clothing, and customs.

“It’s historical that Indigenous Peoples can tell their story at this level. That’s never happened before as far as I know,” says Geoffrey Standing Bear, principal chief of the Osage Nation. “It took somebody who could know that we’ve been betrayed for hundreds of years. He wrote a story about betrayal of trust.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” grew out of a period of reflection and re-evaluation for Mr. Scorsese during the pandemic. COVID-19, he says, was “a gamechanger.” For a filmmaker whose time is so intensely scheduled, the break was in some ways a relief, and it allowed him a chance to reconsider what he wants to dedicate himself to. For him, preparing a film is a meditative process.

“I don’t use a computer because I tried a couple times and I got very distracted. I get distracted as it is,” Mr. Scorsese says. “I’ve got films, I’ve got books, I’ve got people. I’ve only begun this year to read emails. Emails, they scare me. It says ‘CC’ and there are a thousand names. Who are these people?”

Mr. Scorsese has for years been the preeminent conscience of cinema, passionately arguing for the place of personal filmmaking in an era of moviegoing where films can be devalued as “content,” theater screens are monopolized by Marvel, and big-screen vision can be shrunk down on streaming platforms.

“I’m trying to keep alive the sense that cinema is an artform,” Mr. Scorsese says. “The next generation may not see it that way because as children and younger people, they’re exposed to films that are wonderful entertainment, beautifully made, but are purely diversionary. I think cinema can enrich your life.”

“As I’m leaving, I’m trying to say: Remember, this can really be something beautiful in your life.”

Cinema, he says, may be the preeminent 20th-century artform, but something else will belong to the 21st century. Now, Mr. Scorsese says, “the visual image could be done by anything by anybody anytime anywhere.”

The pressure of time is weighing more heavily on Mr. Scorsese, too. He has, he’s said, maybe two more feature films left in him. Currently in the mix are an adaptation of Mr. Grann’s latest book, the 18th-century shipwreck tale “The Wager, ” and an adaptation of Marilynne Robinson’s “Home.”

Yet Mr. Scorsese says he often feels like he’s in a race to accomplish what he can with the time he has left. Increasingly, he's prioritizing what’s worth it. Some things are easier for him to give up.

“Would I like to do more? Yeah. Would I like to go to everybody’s parties and dinner parties and things? Yeah, but you know what? I think I know enough people,” Mr. Scorsese says with a laugh. “Would I like to go see the ancient Greek ruins? Yes. Go back to Sicily? Yes. Go back to Naples again? Yes. North Africa? Yes. But I don’t have to.”

Time for Mr. Scorsese may be waning but curiosity is as abundant as ever.

“If I’m curious about something, I think I’ll find a way – if I hold out, if I hold up – to try to make something about it on film,” he says. “My curiosity is still there.”

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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Movie Reviews

Scorsese centers men and their violence once again in 'killers of the flower moon'.

Justin Chang

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon. Apple TV+ hide caption

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon.

Martin Scorsese 's Killers of the Flower Moon mostly unfolds in the 1920s, when some of the richest people in America were members of the Osage Nation in northeast Oklahoma. Having discovered oil beneath their land years earlier, the Osage live in beautiful homes, own expensive cars and employ white servants.

As in his earlier period dramas, like The Age of Innocence and Gangs of New York , Scorsese brings a highly specific bygone era to vivid life. But this story of enviable wealth is also one of exploitation. The Osage don't control their money; the U.S. government has assigned them white guardians to oversee their finances. Many Osage women are married to white men, who are clearly eyeing their wives' fortunes.

'Of course we should be here': 'Flower Moon' receives a 9-minute ovation at Cannes

'Of course we should be here': 'Flower Moon' receives a 9-minute ovation at Cannes

The movie, adapted from David Grann 's 2017 book , is structured around one of these marriages. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Ernest Burkhart, a handsome, slightly feckless World War I veteran. He's come to Oklahoma to live with his uncle, William K. Hale, a wealthy cattle rancher and beloved community pillar played by Robert De Niro. Soon Ernest finds work as a driver for Mollie Kyle, a quietly steely Osage woman played by Lily Gladstone, whom you may recognize from the series Reservation Dogs and movies like Certain Women .

Ernest is a flirt, and while she initially resists his advances, Mollie eventually falls for him. They marry in a visually stunning wedding sequence that shows the panoramic sweep of Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography and the exquisite detail of Jacqueline West's costumes. But even as they settle down and start a family, Mollie begins to lose hers. Her mother and sister succumb to a mysterious illness. Another sister is found shot to death in the woods. Many more Osage victims turn up, suggesting an intricate criminal conspiracy at work.

Largely Forgotten Osage Murders Reveal A Conspiracy Against Wealthy Native Americans

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Grann's book unraveled that conspiracy gradually, through the eyes of Tom White, a dogged investigator for the FBI; he's played here, very well, by Jesse Plemons. But the movie diminishes his role considerably and reveals what's going on pretty much from the start: White men are systematically murdering the Osage for their headrights, their legal claims to this oil-rich land.

What's so unsettling is not just the ruthlessness but the patience of this scheme; whoever's plotting these chess moves, arranging marriages, devising murders and controlling who inherits headrights, is playing a very long and elaborate game. Killers of the Flower Moon is very long itself at three-and-a-half hours, but it's also continually gripping; Scorsese and his editor Thelma Schoonmaker are masters of the slow burn.

Blood, oil, and the Osage Nation: The battle over headrights

Planet Money

Blood, oil, and the osage nation: the battle over headrights.

Whatever's going on, it's clear that De Niro's Hale is at the center of the mystery — not just because of the cunning twinkle in his eye, but also because he bears the darkly iconic weight of the actor's past roles in GoodFellas , Cape Fear, The Irishman and other Scorsese dramas.

DiCaprio, also a Scorsese veteran, is equally good as Hale's gullible lackey, who gets drawn into this cold-blooded plot. When Mollie falls very ill, a chill runs through the entire picture: Could Ernest really be killing the mother of his children, a woman he genuinely seems to love?

Mollie herself doesn't know what to think. Gladstone's captivating performance makes you feel her turmoil, as well as her unrelenting grief as her family members keep dying.

'Can A Person Change?': Martin Scorsese On Gangsters, Death And Redemption

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'can a person change': martin scorsese on gangsters, death and redemption.

Scorsese wants to honor those victims, and to show how they fit into the long, brutal history of Native American displacement and death. After spending decades exploring America's mean streets, he's addressing the country's original sin. Much of the pre-release buzz has focused on the care that he took, working with Osage consultants to present an authentic depiction of Indigenous life. Even so, some have asked whether a white man should be telling this story — a question that Scorsese seems to acknowledge in one powerfully self-implicating scene.

To my eyes, the movie does have a framing problem, but it's mainly because of its jumble of perspectives. Scorsese gives just enough attention to Mollie and the other Osage characters that I wish he'd centered them even more. But the movie's true interest seems to lie elsewhere. Killers of the Flower Moon may be a fresh departure for Scorsese, but it also finds him on perhaps too-familiar terrain, transfixed as ever by the violence that men do and the trauma that they leave behind.

Here are the movies we can't wait to watch this fall

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Killers of the Flower Moon review: Exquisitely mounted, impeccably finished and just a little worthy

You couldn’t call the film fun, but it is an eminently responsible engagement with ugly american capitalism.

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon

Writers are sometimes advised, for reasons of narrative economy, to begin their stories in media res. Dumping your character amid already ongoing drama is supposed to kick things along a bit. That doesn’t quite work in Martin Scorsese’s latest exquisitely mounted, eminently responsible engagement with American capitalism. The audience will be immersed in this fetid water until it soaks into its marrow. It’s a worthy ambition. A surprising coda aside, you couldn’t exactly call Killers of the Flower Moon fun, but it is notable in its desire to do you some good. Listen, learn and improve.

Following a zippy prologue that finds the Osage people of Oklahoma dancing amid gushing oil, the film brings Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) home from the first World War to a town already transformed by that discovery. The Native American people of Fairfax are loaded, and greedy white folks are here to carve out their undeserved share. Unconvincingly snaggletoothed and hick-voiced, Burkhart arrives as a murderous conspiracy is already afoot. Osage are dying young in suspicious numbers. William King Hale (Robert De Niro), local boss and Burkhart’s awful uncle, pretends to concern, but it doesn’t take much for his Malthusian cynicism to show through. “I love them, but in the turning of the earth they will be gone,” he says. Burkhart hitches himself to Mollie (Lily Gladstone), one of the Osage heiresses, and, with deadening inevitability, she too begins to weaken.

And there the story sits for two of the film’s 3½ hours. Faster than is the case in David Grann’s fine nonfiction source, the audience is made aware that Hale is masterminding the slaughter. Scored to rhythmical pounding from the late Robbie Robertson that alludes to Native American percussion, the deaths mount up as the two growling antagonists – DiCaprio and De Niro clearly enjoy grating against one another – indulge in ever more creative rationalisation.

One strain of Scorsese’s art has enjoyed tempting the audience into guilty excitement at the immorality, indeed psychopathy, of his protagonists. You had that in Taxi Driver. You certainly had it in The Wolf of Wall Street. Who would pretend not to enjoy the early larcenous mayhem in Goodfellas? There is none of that here. Killers of the Flower Moon is taken up with the grubby schemes of men with no wit or glamour. Holding off the arrival of Jesse Plemons’s compelling federal agent until the last act nudges aside suggestions of white-saviour mythology, but it leaves us in drearily squalid company for longer than is comfortable. (It is worth noting that Grann’s book is subtitled “and the birth of the FBI”).

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In theory that shift also gives us more time with the Osage. Representatives of that community have expressed approval of the film. But Gladstone’s superb performance – she works 100 shades of nuance from an increasingly flattened personality – cannot wholly distract from our awareness that the Native Americans register here largely as victims. One beat from Robbie Robertson. One note from the film’s long, long inclination towards delayed retribution.

For all that, Killers of the Flower Moon is so draped in artisanal quality that one can’t help but bow down before it. The cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, a Scorsese regular, shoots in a mouldy chocolate that dispels any suggestions of nostalgia. Thelma Schoonmaker, who first edited for Scorsese more than half a century ago, continues to accentuate the musical rhythms in her collaborator’s montage. All the actors are strong. Gladstone and Plemons are next-level.

Scorsese was, when discussing the new film, happy to again mention John Ford’s The Searchers. But one thinks also of the same director’s late Cheyenne Autumn. It is more sober than the early work. It makes less play with the audience’s baser instincts. It is impeccably finished. It is just a little worthy.

Killers of the Flower Moon is in cinemas from Thursday, October 19th

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist

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Killers of the Flower Moon

2023, Crime/Drama, 3h 26m

What to know

Critics Consensus

Enormous in runtime, theme, and achievement, Killers of the Flower Moon is a sobering appraisal of America's relationship with Indigenous peoples and yet another artistic zenith for Martin Scorsese and his collaborators. Read critic reviews

Audience Says

Strong acting, gorgeous cinematography, and a powerful story keep Killers of the Flower Moon engrossing in spite of its slower pace and extreme length. Read audience reviews

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Killers of the flower moon videos, killers of the flower moon   photos.

Based on David Grann's broadly lauded best-selling book, "Killers of the Flower Moon" is set in 1920s Oklahoma and depicts the serial murder of members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation, a string of brutal crimes that came to be known as the Reign of Terror.

Rating: R (Some Grisly Images|Language|Violence)

Genre: Crime, Drama

Original Language: English

Director: Martin Scorsese

Producer: Martin Scorsese , Dan Friedkin , Bradley Thomas , Daniel Lupi

Writer: Eric Roth , Martin Scorsese

Release Date (Theaters): Oct 20, 2023  wide

Release Date (Streaming): Dec 5, 2023

Box Office (Gross USA): $67.3M

Runtime: 3h 26m

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Production Co: Appian Way, Apple Studios, Sikelia Productions, Imperative Entertainment

Sound Mix: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio: Digital 2.39:1

Cast & Crew

Leonardo DiCaprio

Ernest Burkhart

Robert De Niro

William Hale

Jesse Plemons

Lily Gladstone

Mollie Burkhart

Tantoo Cardinal

John Lithgow

Prosecutor Leaward

Cara Jade Myers

Anna Kyle Brown

Brendan Fraser

W.S. Hamilton

Janae Collins

Jillian Dion

William Belleau

Louis Cancelmi

Tatanka Means

Michael Abbott Jr.

Scott Shepherd

Jason Isbell

Sturgill Simpson

Martin Scorsese

Screenwriter

Dan Friedkin

Bradley Thomas

Daniel Lupi

Executive Producer

Adam Somner

Marianne Bower

Lisa Frechette

John Atwood

Shea Kammer

Rodrigo Prieto

Cinematographer

Thelma Schoonmaker

Film Editing

Robbie Robertson

Original Music

Production Design

Jordan Crockett

Art Director

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StarTribune

Review: 'killers of the flower moon' is a solemn epic and a twisted romance.

The eternal question for film adaptations is whether it's better to see the movie or read the book. With "Killers of the Flower Moon," the answer is yes.

You'll get a very different experience, whichever way you go. David Grann's nonfiction book is a whodunit: In the 1920s, the Osage people in rural Oklahoma died in alarming numbers, likely related to the fact that they were oil-rich. In Martin Scorsese's movie, we know from the beginning what's happening: White men are marrying Osage women and slaughtering their families so they can inherit their wealth.

It's a subtler approach — I guess it's not surprising that "subtle" describes a movie that's 3½ hours long — and it pays different dividends. Whereas Grann makes the Osage seem clueless, the movie gives them more wherewithal. Shortly after Mollie (Lily Gladstone) falls for Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), she comments, "Of course he wants our money, but he wants to be settled."

The big question in the movie is: Does Ernest love his wife, even as he schemes to eliminate her family, doing the bidding of smilingly vicious crime lord William Hale (Robert De Niro)? That makes the evil at the center of the story more shocking because it's not a case of something awful happening but nobody can figure out what it is. It's that something awful is happening and almost everybody knows what it is but the Osage can't convince anyone to care. (When word gets to Washington, D.C., "Killers of the Flower Moon" becomes the first movie in history to depict President Calvin Coolidge as a hero.)

Much has been made of Scorsese shooting this solemn epic in Oklahoma with a largely Osage cast. That care pays off because, riveting as the book was, the movie makes more sense. Time feels like it accrues over the course of a double-length movie and having the clues fall into place earlier better suits the fact that these were crimes committed by fools who didn't know what they were doing.

De Niro is entertainingly nasty and Jesse Plemons is stoically heroic as an FBI agent, but the crux of the movie is one of the oddest romances since Holly Hunter and James Spader did it with cars in "Crash." DiCaprio may genuinely love his wife, even as he poisons her in what plays like a marital version of Munchausen syndrome. And Mollie loves Ernest, although she's too smart not to suspect what's going on. If we're in love, "Killers of the Flower Moon" seems to say, we can convince ourselves of anything.

Gladstone, so memorable in "Certain Women," maintains the mystery of Mollie, who is kept off balance by not just the poison but the grief of losing her whole family. She and her fellow Osage characters are central, but it remains DiCaprio's movie. Ernest is an unusually passive, foolish character for a big-time actor to play, but in later scenes, when Ernest begins to understand what's going on, DiCaprio takes him into bold, almost Billy Bob Thornton-as-Sling-Blade territory.

Until an ending that finds a surreal way to tell us the final fates of these real-life "characters," "Killers of the Flower Moon" is a handsome, almost stately movie. Scorsese is a great stylist, but he takes a back seat, insisting that we give this forgotten story the attention it has deserved for the past century.

'Killers of the Flower Moon' ***½ out of 4 stars Rated: R for strong language, gore and disturbing material. |Where: In theaters Friday.

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Review: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is a powerful historical epic — and a qualified triumph

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Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” begins in the heavily shrouded darkness of an Osage tribal ceremony, a somber occasion that marks the passing of a much-cherished way of life. White American settlers have driven the Osage from Kansas into what is now northeastern Oklahoma, an act of displacement that they commemorate by burying a peace pipe. But their lament will soon give way to celebration: Into the earth goes the pipe and out comes a great gush of oil, raining down on the Osage in a sequence of surreal, joyous revelry. This is the first and last time they will appear this carefree, dancing against a wide-open landscape that will soon be dotted with oil derricks, looming emblems of America’s industrial and capitalist boom.

Suddenly rich beyond their wildest dreams, the Osage will also find themselves extorted, exploited, hunted and persecuted in ways they scarcely could have imagined. By the time “Killers of the Flower Moon” draws to a close, a few decades and nearly 3½ hours later, the toll of that persecution will have been amply measured: in the hundreds of millions stolen from Osage coffers, and in the steady, systematic pileup of Osage bodies. The qualified achievement of this grim and enveloping movie, which Scorsese and Eric Roth adapted from David Grann’s superb 2017 nonfiction book , is to illuminate a far-reaching conspiracy from the inside, to give cinematic force and emotional weight to what was once a Prohibition-era footnote in the long, brutal history of Native American genocide.

Since that history has seldom been given its due or even the time of day in American movies, the significance of Scorsese’s accomplishment can hardly be overstated, even if the film itself, like much of the director’s work, is susceptible to both knee-jerk dismissals and florid overpraise. Part of the fascination of “Killers of the Flower Moon” is that it is both the highly skilled culmination of a master’s output and a wobbly first step in a new direction. It is, on one level, a crime thriller built from familiar Scorsesean elements: demanding father figures and feckless heirs, treacherous husbands and neglected wives, oafish goons and ruthless assassins, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. But within Scorsese’s own oeuvre as well as the larger context of American cinema, it also charts out fresh and historically significant dramatic terrain.

One man talks to another man who's sitting inside a car.

By the 1920s, that terrain, once a sparsely populated stretch of Osage reservation, is covered with bustling small towns, those towering derricks and an awful lot of cattle. It is also, or at least seems to be, a thriving bicultural boomtown, where Osage men and women live in well-appointed houses, own expensive automobiles and wear a mix of traditional tribal garb and modern dress; some also employ white servants. The extravagance of their lifestyle inspires much public curiosity, something Scorsese conveys, in an energetic period flourish, with reams of black-and-white mock-newsreel footage.

Tellingly, though, he brings us into this strange new world through the outsider eyes of Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio), a feckless World War I veteran with an injured gut, an aw-shucks grin and an insatiable appetite for women and money. That’s no crime, of course. But from the moment Ernest arrives in the Osage town of Fairfax and sits down with his uncle, a cattle rancher and revered community fixture named William K. Hale (De Niro), it’s clear that the younger man’s lusts are being cultivated in a treacherous direction.

With a demonic twinkle, Hale shoves his nephew toward the town’s many wealthy Osage women, among them a quietly poised beauty named Mollie Kyle (an outstanding Lily Gladstone). Like all the Osage, Mollie has no direct control over her wealth; she’s been assigned a white financial guardian and declared “incompetent” by the U.S. government, though that’s the last word you’d use to describe someone of her grace and self-possession.

When Ernest starts chauffeuring her around town, Mollie is guarded but receptive to his flirtations. She knows that this “coyote” wants her money, but she also senses and returns his very real ardor and affection. They soon marry in a gorgeous wedding sequence that suggests a Sooner State remake of “The Godfather,” buoyed by the exquisite details of Jacqueline West’s costumes and the earthy, panoramic sweep of Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography . In this scene and others, Prieto places Ernest and Mollie side-by-side in a symmetrical widescreen frame — a visual gesture that conveys the depth of their intimacy but also positions them as equals. It may be a white man’s world, but here in Osage territory, Mollie’s riches and regal bearing tell a thrillingly different story.

A woman and a man sit together at a dining room table.

The prevalence of interracial marriage, plus the rare spectacle of white subservience and Indigenous largesse, is the kind of inversion of the social statuo quo that clearly fascinates Scorsese. Like some of his most elaborate period re-creations — the high and low visions of 19th-century Manhattan in “The Age of Innocence” and “Gangs of New York,” the feudal Japan of “Silence” — the Oklahoma we see is more than just a splendid piece of scenery (although it is certainly that, thanks to production designer Jack Fisk, who worked similar magic with the parched California oil country of “There Will Be Blood”). As the camera navigates crowded streets, seedy gambling parlors and the swirling domestic chaos of Ernest and Mollie’s home, Scorsese doesn’t just achieve a sense of place; he also pulls off, not for the first time, a passionate and meticulous feat of cultural anthropology. He brings an entire bygone era to rich, teeming life, just before he chokes it off with an all-consuming stench of death.

Even as she and Ernest start a family, Mollie finds herself losing her own relatives, in what somehow feels like both agonizing slow-motion and shatteringly rapid succession. Over the course of a few years, her sister Minnie (Jillian Dion) and her mother, Lizzie Q (the steel-gazed Tantoo Cardinal), succumb to a mysterious “wasting illness.” Another sister, Anna (Cara Jade Myers, fiercely memorable), is found shot to death in a nearby pond, one of several grisly homicides memorialized in a stark, disturbing montage. Most of these Osage deaths, we’re told, were never investigated, suggesting breathtaking levels of official corruption at a time of already rampant lawlessness. But the big picture is always distressingly clear: White people are killing Indigenous people for their “headrights,” their legal claims to this oil-rich land, and they are doing so with strategic patience, chilling ruthlessness and utter impunity.

The fundamental obviousness of what’s happening accounts for why, unlike Grann’s book, which disgorged its secrets gradually, Scorsese and Roth pretty much clue us in from the outset. That’s a bold stroke for a 206-minute movie, even one that, as cut together by Scorsese’s longtime editor, Thelma Schoonmaker , keeps its grip on your attention even when it sometimes gets lost in its own conspiratorial labyrinth. The specifics of who killed whom aren’t always apparent or, for that matter, coherent. (Call it disorganized crime.) You learn to follow the plot not just through the names but also the faces of various low-level thugs and lunkheads, vividly played by actors including Scott Shepherd, Louis Cancelmi, Tommy Schultz and Sturgill Simpson.

Four women sit outside on a blanket.

Speaking of faces: Even if Hale didn’t give off such conspicuous John Huston -in-“Chinatown” vibes (or have an occasional tendency to say the quiet part out loud), it’d be impossible to ignore the darkly iconic associations De Niro pipes in from “Goodfellas,” “Cape Fear,” “The Irishman” and other classic Scorsese joints. You perceive Hale’s true colors immediately through those associations, just as you can see Ernest’s venality through DiCaprio’s immediately recognizable brand of boyish corruptibility. The sublimated tension of the Hale–Ernest dynamic, embodied by two Scorsese veterans in fine form, is so clear and legible that it sometimes runs the risk of pushing everyone else to the narrative periphery.

You will wish for more immersive, interior glimpses of Osage life, beyond the sobering mass gatherings led by tribal elders terrified by the epidemic of killing in their midst. You may also wish for more of Jesse Plemons as Tom White, the politely dogged investigator who cracks the case with his intrepid undercover team. One of the calculated casualties of Scorsese and Roth’s script is the origin story that Grann’s book spun for the FBI, which counted the Osage killings among its groundbreaking early homicide cases. It’s not hard to imagine the sprawling detective procedural Scorsese might have wrought from that jettisoned material (or to dream of a surreal DiCaprio-meets-DiCaprio moment between Ernest Burkhart and J. Edgar Hoover ). Instead he treats White’s investigation as something of a dramatic redundancy, a summary of a mystery whose solution has been clear all along.

The more compelling puzzle in “Killers of the Flower Moon” isn’t a question of whodunit. It’s the emotional and psychological ambiguity at the heart of Ernest and Mollie’s marriage, a parasitic bond that quivers with eroticism, swoons with tenderness and finally reads as an irreducible metaphor for Indigenous destruction. A shudder convulses the picture when Mollie, who’s diabetic, falls gravely and suspiciously ill. You search for clues to her condition in Ernest’s face, twisting itself into a horrified, self-loathing perma-frown. But it’s Mollie’s visage, radiant and eerily becalmed even when she’s bedridden, that keeps drawing your gaze; she’s the faint-flickering beam of light in a story of near-impenetrable darkness.

Two men talk in a barbershop.

An actor who can set off more emotional reverberations with a barely cracked smile than some performers manage in an entire monologue, Gladstone (“Reservation Dogs,” “Certain Women” ) is so extraordinary here that she nearly succeeds in blunting — and, at times, productively complicating — the showier, grabbier interplay between De Niro and DiCaprio. Her performance is astonishing, even if her character is too dramatically sidelined, especially in the later passages, to shoulder the movie’s much-vaunted representational ambitions. To describe Mollie as the story’s wounded conscience is not quite the same thing as saying she occupies its narrative center, which she does not. Apart from Mollie’s strongest scenes and Lizzie Q’s occasional grim deathbed visions, the movie seems curiously reluctant to penetrate the psychology of its Osage characters — a reluctance that feels like timidity, respect or maybe a mix of both.

I think that lapse explains some of the anxiety that has swirled around “Killers of the Flower Moon” since even before it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Much has been made about the armies of Osage consultants enlisted to ensure an authentic depiction of Indigenous life. While that commitment bespeaks admirable care and sensitivity, it’s also clearly designed to offset the apparent optical setback of having a white filmmaker, even a white filmmaker as justly revered as Scorsese, tell an epic tale of Native American displacement and destruction. Even if we reject the usual art-deadening canards about who is and isn’t allowed to tell whose story, it’s worth noting that one of the film’s most poignant and surprising scenes finds Scorsese himself addressing that very question. With wit and humility, he implicates himself in a vast storytelling tradition — one that encompasses radio and theater as well as cinema — that has continually exploited, marginalized and glossed over images and narratives of Native American life.

Postcard features a photograph of a group of unidentified women and children of the Osage Nation, Pawhuska, Oklahoma Territory, circa 1918 - 1922. (Photo by William J Boag/Oklahoma Historical Society/Getty Images)

The true crime story of the Osage Nation would take a century to tell

Scorsese’s new film ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ about the murders of Osage people over oil and land in Oklahoma, doesn’t begin to describe the depraved injustices inflicted on the tribe by the U.S. government.

Oct. 15, 2023

That humility is crucial, and moving in its own right. Whatever its triumphs and missteps, revelations and blind spots, “Killers of the Flower Moon” comes by them all honestly. It has been made in rightful hope that the American crime epic, a genre Scorsese has pushed to peerless heights, can still open an audience window into a richer understanding of culture and history. It also brushes up against some of the genre’s not-uncommon limitations, including a tendency to privilege flamboyant villainy over heroic resistance, violence and excitement over the quiet and the quotidian.

And if “Killers” miscalibrates its balance of perspectives, it also discovers, in the luminous recesses of Gladstone’s performance, a quality of contemplation that beautifully suffuses and modulates Scorsese’s faster, more frenetic rhythms. This is the work of a filmmaker who, with 80 years and a permanent place in the pantheon under his belt, has nothing left to prove and entire worlds still to discover.

'Killers of the Flower Moon'

Rating: R, for violence, some grisly images and language Running time: 3 hours, 26 minutes Playing: Starts Oct. 20 in wide release

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Justin Chang has been a film critic for the Los Angeles Times since 2016. He is the author of the book “FilmCraft: Editing” and serves as chair of the National Society of Film Critics and secretary of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.

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Killers of the Flower Moon

Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

When oil is discovered in 1920s Oklahoma under Osage Nation land, the Osage people are murdered one by one - until the FBI steps in to unravel the mystery. When oil is discovered in 1920s Oklahoma under Osage Nation land, the Osage people are murdered one by one - until the FBI steps in to unravel the mystery. When oil is discovered in 1920s Oklahoma under Osage Nation land, the Osage people are murdered one by one - until the FBI steps in to unravel the mystery.

  • Martin Scorsese
  • David Grann
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Robert De Niro
  • Lily Gladstone
  • 972 User reviews
  • 342 Critic reviews
  • 89 Metascore
  • 81 wins & 273 nominations

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  • Ernest Burkhart

Robert De Niro

  • William Hale

Lily Gladstone

  • Mollie Burkhart

Jesse Plemons

  • Prosecutor Peter Leaward

Brendan Fraser

  • W.S. Hamilton

Cara Jade Myers

  • (as JaNae Collins)

Jillian Dion

  • Kelsie Morrison

Scott Shepherd

  • Byron Burkhart
  • Paul Red Eagle

Talee Redcorn

  • Non-Hon-Zhin-Ga …

Yancey Red Corn

  • Chief Bonnicastle

Tatanka Means

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  • Trivia The investigation into Osage County was the first investigation presented to the newly formed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It was led by J. Edgar Hoover.
  • Goofs At the end of the spanking scene, De Niro hits DiCaprio so hard that the paddle breaks, with a splintered crack in the middle of the paddle. An indication that this was accidental comes with De Niro attempting to hide it behind his leg, while the next scene has an unbroken paddle placed on the floor against the podium.

Ernest Burkhart : Can you find the wolves in this picture?

  • Alternate versions The Australian theatrical version was cut for an M rating, given on 9 Oct 2023. The uncut version was previously rated MA15+ on 5 Sep 2023. Based on the two classifications, 'strong injury detail' was removed or replaced to obtain the new, more accessible rating.
  • Connections Featured in Amanda the Jedi Show: Never Trust the Standing Ovations | CANNES 2023 Indiana Jones, Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)
  • Soundtracks Bull Doze Blues Written by Henry Thomas Performed by Henry Thomas Courtesy of Document Records

User reviews 972

  • Oct 31, 2023

The Movies of Martin Scorsese

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  • How long is Killers of the Flower Moon? Powered by Alexa
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  • October 20, 2023 (United States)
  • United States
  • Bartlesville, Oklahoma, USA
  • Apple Studios
  • Imperative Entertainment
  • Sikelia Productions
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro
  • $200,000,000 (estimated)
  • $67,343,050
  • $23,253,655
  • Oct 22, 2023
  • $156,343,050

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  • Runtime 3 hours 26 minutes
  • Black and White
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Dolby Digital
  • IMAX 6-Track

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon.

Killers of the Flower Moon review – Scorsese’s remarkable epic about the bloody birth of modern America

Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone star in this macabre western about serial murders among the Osage tribe in 1920s Oklahoma, which reflects the erasure of Native Americans from the US

M artin Scorsese’s western true-crime thriller is about the US’s Osage murders of the early 1920s, based on the nonfiction bestseller by David Grann . With co-writer Eric Roth, Scorsese crafts an epic of creeping, existential horror about the birth of the American century, a macabre tale of quasi-genocidal serial killings which mimic the larger erasure of Native Americans from the US. It places in the drama’s foreground a gaslit marriage of lies and poisoned love. It echoes Scorsese’s earlier work about mob violence, mob loyalty and the final, inevitable sellout to the federal authorities, whose own bad faith gradually emerges. But in the end, this film is about what all westerns are about, and perhaps all history: the brutal grab for land, resources and power.

Lily Gladstone gives a performance of tragic force as Mollie Burkhart, a Native American woman from the Osage tribe who, like all her people, has become unexpectedly wealthy because the apparently stony and unpromising land in Oklahoma on which the authorities allowed the Osage to settle turned out to have huge reserves of oil. But they are still subject to a racist and infantilising condition of “guardianship”: to claim the income and spend it, Osage individuals need a white co-signatory. And there is something else: Mollie and her family are deeply disturbed by mysterious illnesses which have been killing off Osage people, one by one. Later the bodies of Osage murder-victims are found, including Mollie’s wayward sister Anna (Cara Jade Myers), whose autopsy is bizarrely carried out in the open air, at the crime scene itself.

Into this situation arrives a slippery, venal individual called Ernest, played by Leonardo DiCaprio; an ambitious but also submissive and fundamentally inadequate man: greedy, stupid and biddable. He has returned to the US after service in the first world war, and comes to the vast estate of his wealthy uncle, who has offered him a job working alongside his hardfaced brother Byron, played by Scott Shepherd, who has clearly been extensively normalised in the violence and corruption over which the uncle presides.

This cattleman-plutocrat is William Hale, played by Robert De Niro , a man of calcified resentment and self-importance who preens himself on his good relations with the Osage people. Hale hires Ernest for a position as his vague underling, courtier and dirty-work factotum, and encourages him to date and also marry Mollie, whom Ernest has already met, which would give him (and therefore Hale) a legal claim on Mollie’s “headrights”, as her oil entitlements are known. And so Ernest and Mollie’s doomed marriage commences, complicated by the terrible fears of Mollie’s ailing mother, Lizzie Q (Tantoo Cardinal), who has a quietly beautiful death scene. Mollie’s diabetes is also a factor; it is made strangely worse by the medicine Hale has procured for her, and which Ernest administers while always simpering and blubbing his concern for her declining health.

When the situation becomes too bad for the federal authorities to ignore, Washington DC sends an officer of its fledgling Bureau of Investigations (later to be the FBI). This is Tom White, played by Jesse Plemons. But Scorsese shows us the politics: the bureau’s belated appearance appears to be, at least partly, a matter of containing the difficult situation involving the white people and the inescapably wealthy Osage peoples, and reinforcing federal control over the new state of Oklahoma.

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As performed by Gladstone and DiCaprio, the relationship between Mollie and Ernest has a kind of spiritual nausea; Ernest is sincere about his feelings for his wife, in his way, but they are part of a context of bad faith and violence. His real relationship is of course with his uncle, he is the beta to the older man’s alpha. Weirdly, DiCaprio starts to look like DeNiro, like a dog resembling its master: a younger, victim-villain version with the same gimlet-eyed fear and hostility and the same rat-trap mouth with the corners turned down. His uncle has inducted him into the Masons, and it is into the local masonic hall, with all its regalia, that Hale leads the wretched Ernest for a corporal punishment scene when the young man lets him down – the most extraordinary corporal punishment I have seen since Lindsay Anderson’s If… .

Hale’s rule, so avowedly caring and sensitive to the Osage, is in fact creating a vast dysfunction of depression, alcoholism, lawlessness, fatal illness and murder. Gladstone creates a persona for Mollie that is flawed and self-reproachful, with some shame at having collaborated with her persecutor. She has dignity and calm and rises above the squalor all around her, but that calm is also the stricken immobility of illness. And she knows that Ernest was never any good but she was charmed and seduced by him all the same.

Scorsese presents a remarkable story, with an audacious framing device of a briskly insensitive “true crime” radio show featuring Osage characters crassly played by white actors. This is an utterly absorbing film, a story that Scorsese sees as a secret history of American power, a hidden violence epidemic polluting the water table of humanity.

  • Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Robert De Niro
  • Native Americans
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Killers Of The Flower Moon Review

Killers Of The Flower Moon

20 Oct 2023

Killers Of The Flower Moon

In a heartbreaking recent interview, Martin Scorsese lamented his advancing years. Quoting Akira Kurosawa, he said, “I’m only now beginning to see the possibility of what cinema could be — and it’s too late.” Thank the gods of cinema, then, that he still found time for Killers Of The Flower Moon : a piece of work as strong and sharp and vivid as anything in his remarkable career, and perhaps one he could have made only now. How many octogenarians can honestly claim to still be working at the peak of their powers, as he so evidently is?

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

This, his 26th feature, seems at initial glance outside his usual scope: set far beyond the borders of his beloved native New York, it is effectively his first Western, albeit a deeply revisionist one, a story of genocide and bloodshed on the last frontier. And yet it is also deeply Scorsesian, if that word means anything. His lifelong preoccupations — criminal conspiracies, violence and its provenance, the founding myths of America, fatally flawed men — are all here. Echoes of his entire filmography flicker in and out, from Mean Streets to GoodFellas to The Irishman . (There is, effectively, the 1930s equivalent of helicopters circling above Henry Hill’s house in the third act.)

De Niro is brutally effective here, dooming a life with a single eyebrow twitch.

Adapting the extraordinary non-fiction book of the same name by David Grann (while wisely swerving away from the book’s focus on the FBI’s early days), Scorsese and co-writer Eric Roth craft a riveting crime thriller, a genuinely epic story that zips along until, somehow, three- and-a-half hours have passed by in an instant.

A prologue establishes the Osage Nation as “the chosen people of chance”: forcibly moved onto land that turns out to be oil-rich, leaving them the wealthiest people on earth, per capita. But resentment and racial tensions quickly fester on the reservation, the spectre of white supremacy still haunting. Into this oily goldrush arrives Ernest Burkhart ( Leonardo DiCaprio ), a World War I veteran with little intellect or prospects but plenty of ambition. DiCaprio, approaching his sixth decade, cuts a pathetically childlike figure here, brilliantly twisting his features into slack-jawed stupidity. (“I can read, sir,” he says defensively at one point.)

Killers Of The Flower Moon

Guided by the firm hand of Ernest’s uncle, Bill ‘King’ Hale (a regal Robert De Niro ) — perhaps the most sinister character ever to wear driving goggles — a plot thickens. Outwardly, Hale is a friend to the Osage people; privately, he speaks in white-nationalist terms (“You have to take back control of your home”) and conspires to gain their lucrative oil headrights, through marriage, and then murder.

Gladstone’s enigmatic smile, and her soul-shattering anxiety, never feel far away.

De Niro is brutally effective here, dooming a life with a single eyebrow twitch, and it is a true treat to see Scorsese’s two great muses spark off each other. Yet perhaps the most compelling performance comes from Lily Gladstone, as Ernest’s love interest Mollie , an Osage woman whose family begin to die in increasingly suspicious circumstances. Gladstone, who so impressed in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women , gives a turn of astounding restraint and often devastating quiet.

Mollie sees right through Ernest’s wooing from the off, as a “coyote who wants money”, but against her better judgement, and despite his terrible chat-up lines (“You got nice-coloured skin!”), a genuine romance soon blossoms. For all the slow-burn bombast of the deadly criminal enterprise — and the film looks every penny of its reported $200 million budget, with gorgeous work from Barbie cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto — it’s this intimate relationship, in all its strange contradictions and ambiguity, that is at its core. Even when Mollie is seemingly sidelined, numbed by a mysterious illness, her presence is felt. Gladstone’s enigmatic smile, and her soul-shattering anxiety, never feel far away.

After such an expansive, sprawling, hours-long build-up, Scorsese ends things abruptly, with an epilogue that could feel almost flippant. Yet he is shifting the focus onto himself and his role in the story, acknowledging the artifice of the ‘true-crime’ tradition, and respectfully leaving the final word to the people for whom the footprint of these murders is still felt. It is a moment of true grace, from a filmmaker who seems, in his own mind, to have finally reached artistic maturity. And he’s not done yet.

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A grid of photos shows various images from a scene in “Killers of the Flower Moon”: a child’s book, a man’s face, outdoor views, women in a row and a man and a woman facing each other.

One Indelible Scene

The Grim Heartbeat Propelling ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

In a short but fast-moving sequence built around a children’s primer, Martin Scorsese lays out all the themes of this terrible true-crime tale.

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By Manohla Dargis

  • Published Jan. 4, 2024 Updated Jan. 7, 2024

Early in Martin Scorsese’s “ Killers of the Flower Moon ,” an Osage woman named Mollie gives her gravely unsuitable white suitor, Ernest, a Stetson. It’s a large off-white hat with a bound-edge brim and a wide ribbon around the band. It’s a gift but it feels more like a benediction, and anyone who’s ever watched an old western film (or “Star Wars”) will recognize the symbolism of her largess. Mollie is telling Ernest that she sees him as a good guy, even if the movie has already violently upended the familiar dualism of the white hat vs. black.

That dichotomy shapes “Killers of the Flower Moon,” a deeply American story of greed, betrayal and murder told through the anguished relationship between Mollie (Lily Gladstone) and Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio). It’s around 1919 and Ernest is wearing his World War I uniform when he dismounts a train in Fairfax, an Oklahoma boomtown where luxury cars rumble down dirt roads. He’s come to live with his uncle, William Hale (Robert De Niro), a smooth-talking rancher who, in one breath, asks him if he has seen bloodshed and, in the next, describes the Osage as the finest and “and most beautiful people on God’s earth.”

The movie is based on David Grann’s appallingly all-too-true crime book from 2017, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I.” In adapting it to the screen, Scorsese and Eric Roth have dramatically narrowed the role of the F.B.I. to focus on the multiple murders — scores, perhaps hundreds — of Osage members that took place largely in the 1920s on the tribe’s oil-rich reservation in northern Oklahoma. As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, oil made the tribe among the wealthiest people in the world. It also made them the target of numerous white predators. As a 1920 article in Harper’s ominously put it: “The Osage Indians are becoming so rich that something will have to be done about it.”

The following year, Congress passed a law that required the Osage to prove they could handle their reserves “responsibly.” If they couldn’t, they were declared incompetent and appointed a guardian; it was a status, as Grann explains, that was usually given to full-blooded Osage like Mollie. It’s instructive then that the first time you see Mollie in “Killers,” she is in an office being asked to state her name by an unseen man. “I’m Mollie Kyle, incompetent,” she says, her face a serene blank. The man is her guardian, yet another smooth talker, though one with a picture of a Ku Klux Klan rider on his wall. When Mollie leaves his office, Scorsese cuts to a shot of her feet on a doormat imprinted with “ KIGY ,” an abbreviation for “Klansman, I greet you.”

Mollie gives Ernest the Stetson soon afterward in a sequence that both lays out many of the story’s themes and beautifully illustrates dialectical filmmaking in four or so revelatory minutes. It opens at the 22-minute mark with Mollie walking away from the camera while coyly looking over her shoulder at Ernest, who’s watching her from a car. By that point, he has started working as a chauffeur ferrying around locals. She’s one of his regulars, and he thinks she’s sweet on him, which pleases Hale. If “we mix these families together,” he tells Ernest, Mollie’s money “will come to us.” As he often does, Ernest looks utterly baffled by his uncle.

As Mollie walks toward her house, a pulsing bass line revs up. The soundtrack includes original music by Scorsese’s friend and frequent collaborator Robbie Robertson (who died in August ), as well as old songs like the jumpy blues number that’s playing when Ernest and Mollie first meet in town. The notes that begin pulsing now create an entirely different mood and feeling simply because they sound like a heartbeat, if one that sometimes skips. And for good reason: The song is “Heartbeat Theme/Ni-U-Kon-Ska,” the meaning of which becomes clear when, after a few more cuts, the camera settles on Ernest’s face. “I am an Osage brave,” he says in halting voice-over, his words creating an odd counter-rhythm to the thumping.

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Ernest’s voice-over continues as the movie cuts to a brief bird's-eye view of him pulling away from Mollie’s house followed by a close-up of his hand holding an opened illustrated book. Scorsese — working with his longtime editor, Thelma Schoonmaker — holds on the shot long enough for you to scan both pages, the chapter heading (“Osage Culture & History”) and the simple illustrations, including of a woman near a tepee, some men dancing around a fire and others on horseback. As Ernest speaks, he turns the page, revealing other images — a buffalo hunt, a map of Indian Territory — and it becomes clear that he’s reading, either aloud or in his head, from this book. Ni-U-Kon-Ska, he says, means “ children of the middle waters .”

Titled “Lilly’s Wild Tales Among the Indians,” the book belongs to Hale, who had earlier instructed Ernest to school himself on the Osage. It resembles the kind of old-fashioned children’s primers from the 19th and early 20th centuries that were still floating around the New York City school system midcentury, so it’s easy to imagine that a book like this drifted into Scorsese’s life at one point. (The main illustration in the movie is based on one such volume from 1901.) The book is as crudely simplistic as you would expect, yet when Ernest reads the words, “‘Move,’ said the Great White Father, from Missouri, from Arkansas, from Kansas,” he is also speaking to the grimly true history that informs Scorsese’s movie.

Ernest reads a caption on an illustration, his finger tracing the words, “Can you find the wolves in this picture?” Just as he finishes the sentence, you hear the metallic jangling of a door opening, and the camera hurriedly pans up to find Ernest’s brother, Byron (Scott Shepherd) — in another light-colored hat — bursting into the room. “All right,” Byron says. “Let’s go.” The men rush to join a third, Blackie Thompson (Tommy Schultz), who’s waiting in an idling car. Ernest’s voice-over continues as they drive off, and a wailing harmonica joins the heartbeat, Ernest’s voice briefly dropping out when the men — now all wearing hoods over their heads — excitedly rob a wealthy Osage couple at gunpoint.

The men convene at a billiard parlor (Scorsese is working fast!) where Ernest, as will be his habit for the remainder of the movie, makes a catastrophically wrong bet. “I love money! I love money!” he exclaims just before losing his night’s take. It’s first light when the men leave the parlor, and as they walk out Ernest’s voice-over resumes: “Dawn was always a sacred time for prayers.” The movie then cuts to a long shot of Mollie praying at a riverbank, an image that’s followed by a rapid volley of shots — of the sun, moon and fire — that ends on a vast green field dotted with the purple and white flowers that give the movie its title. It’s as if, Ernest says, Wah’kon-tah, the Osage word for God, had sprinkled the Earth with sugar candy.

Although Ernest’s voice-over pauses during the robbery, it only fully ends when he and Mollie are at an outdoor christening, a nod at the life and the children they will soon make together. The strange heartbeat, though, continues as Ernest drives Mollie to her house, bringing the sequence full circle. This time, though, he walks Mollie to her front door, where she stops to give him the Stetson before they enter the house, where her mother is. Before they do, he puts on the hat. It’s preposterously large. It’s also a near-match for the pale 10-gallon hat that the John B. Stetson Company custom made for the silent-film star Tom Mix , a Hollywood hero who helped popularize the country’s romantic myth of itself that Scorsese furiously dismantles in this brilliant movie shot by shot, scene by scene, heartbeat by heartbeat.

Manohla Dargis is the chief film critic of The Times, which she joined in 2004. She has an M.A. in cinema studies from New York University, and her work has been anthologized in several books. More about Manohla Dargis

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The release of a new Martin Scorsese movie is always a major event. The famous director of Taxi Driver , Raging Bull , The Last Temptation of Christ , Goodfellas , Kundun, The Aviator, The Wolf of Wall Street , and Silence has more than earned his pedigree as one of the most talented filmmakers alive, and one of the most important from the perspective of film preservation. His name has become a call to action for film preservation and auteur storytelling in a medium all too eager to embrace factory filmmaking and stifling commercialism.

Given the fact that he has had to take his most recent films to Netflix and AppleTV+ to get the sizable budgets he needed, it says something that his most recent film, Killers Of The Flower Moon , has been given such a sizable theatrical release, especially coming in the monumental auteur successes of Oppenheimer and Barbie .

Content Guide

Violence/Scary Images:  The movie depicts dozens of characters being murdered in various ways, some of them being quite frightening and bloody. Language/Crude Humor:  Severe language throughout including f***, s***, h***, d***, and multiple racial slurs. Drug/Alcohol References:  The film is set during prohibition, but characters regularly engage in alcoholic drinking and smoking. Sexual Content:  Two married characters initiate sexual intercourse before the camera cuts away, showing nothing. Spiritual Content:  Most of the characters in the film are either practicing Catholics or worship in the manner of the Osage people’s Pagan religion. The are a few scenes containing omens significant to the Osage people. Other Negative Content : Significant violence, bigotry, and immorality are depicted, with little of it receiving any justice. Positive Content:  Themes of justice, love, and truth.

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

Since it was first conceived, Killers of the Flower Moon is a film that has been mired in controversy. Firstly, I drew criticism for its inordinately large price tag of $200 million to film it. Secondly, it drew the ire of Marvel fans who have declared Scorsese a personal enemy for complaining about superhero movies—finding his movies ponderous and boring. Most recently, the film drew ire from Native American activists who questioned whether a White Italian-American filmmaker ought to be telling stories about people of color.

Now that the movie is finally in theaters, it remains to be seen how many of these criticisms truly matter. Despite his advanced age, Martin Scorsese remains one of our most important defenders of the cinematic arts and a voice who is more than capable of producing energetic, ambitious, and meaningful works of storytelling. His newest work is every bit the essential masterpiece he has more than proven himself capable of producing in his sleep—a sprawling epic neo-western pondering the dichotomy of good and evil and the human capacity to indulge both.

The film is based on the real-life events surrounding the Osage murders and based on the book of the same name by journalist David Grann. Set against the 1920s, the displaced Oklahoma-based Osage people are left mourning the death of their culture after forced resettlement. However, the discovery of oil on their government-appointed land turns their people into the richest population per capita in the world for more than a decade.

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

This amazing coincidence gives the tribe incredible capital and wealth to enjoy but also attracts parasites who are eager to profit off the fountain of money flowing out of the small town of Fairfax, Oklahoma. Among these is a young World War I veteran named Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) who has been invited by his uncle, William King Burkhart (Robert De Nero), to join him in his efforts to ingratiate himself into the Osage people and slowly gain access to their oil rights—which can only be done if one marries into a prominent local family and happen to inherit oil shares after their spouse’s death.

Most modern retellings of the Osage murders are told from the perspective of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was just rising to prominence at the time that major newspapers began breaking the story that dozens of Osage people were being efficiently murdered by a massive criminal operation for unknown reasons. True crime podcasts tend to play the story in reverse because of the slow revelation of the events—the revelation that beloved town benefactors were guilty and that the biggest breaks came from the guilty consciouses of those who committed the crimes—is more dramatic when told from the perspective of the outsiders unfurling a massive conspiracy happening in plain sight.

Killers of the Flower Moon doesn’t do this. We know very early on in the film that William King is a monstrous villain and we see frequent flashbacks of his family committing the horrific murders. Scorsese tells the entire story from the perspective of Ernest, honing in on his bizarre dual perspective as a man lovingly married to an Osage woman who is tasked with murdering her family members.

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

In some ways, this plays out with a very similar structure to the kind of stories Scorsese has told for decades—crime epics about the appeal of sin and the fall of great criminal masterminds like the Lucchese crime family or Jordan Belfort, where the progressive horror of these events plays out in equal measure to their depravity as the walls close in on them. But the fact that the Osage murders are so immediately tied to the horrific treatment of America’s native people adds a level of pain and immediacy to these events.

Scorsese has cited the horror films of Ari Aster as one of his primary influences on Killers Of The Flower Moon , and it is an apt comparison. The film is operating as a low-key horror film with a consistent droning and unsettling tone, that only intensifies as the cognitive dissonance and immorality of these characters descend further and further. This isn’t a traditional mystery thriller about the slow unfurling of truth, it is about being forced to sit in the same room as the truth and watching it play out.

As one would expect from a Scorsese film, it comes with a heavy-handed helping of Catholic symbolism. The film’s climax plays out with the obvious language and tension of a confessional, with its lead character bearing his soul after everything he has done, but still grappling with shame and dishonesty as he can’t fully bear his soul as to what he has done. Ernest isn’t necessarily the film’s most interesting character, but the torment in his soul between his two loyalties casts him as the heart of the film and its twisted vision of human depravity.

christian movie review killers of the flower moon

And that is something we get to see in great detail because Scorsese has used every dollar of his $200 million budget to transform the story into a nearly four-hour beast, which depicts all of the major events of the story in horrific sprawling detail as we see innocent people shot, stabbed, eviscerated, and slowly poisoned. This is a movie that truly wants you to absorb every detail of this real-life conspiracy, to know the feeling of being an Osage person cut off from the world and being preyed upon by a monstrous soulless wolf in sheep’s clothing.

It is likely that Killers Of The Flower Moon is going to continue facilitating the same conversations we have been having about Scorsese for the past four years—whether he is a snob who hates contemporary cinema, whether he ought to be telling non-white stories, etc. National Review film critic Armond White has already turned the discourse on its head by declaring it “Scorsese’s first political film,” which is just a wild statement. And yet, the film feels so much deeper and above these questions and squabbles. It is an immense success of filmmaking that takes a very difficult series of characters and finds every ounce of humanity in their stories as it makes us contemplate their sins.

+ Powerful performances + Excellent script + Intense unsettling tone + Horrifying themes

- Excessive length

The Bottom Line

Killers of the Flower Moon is another successful notch in Martin Scorsese's career of creating powerful stories of men corrupted by their dark natures, and does so to reveal many of the tragic hypocrisies that allow such a horrific event to take place.

Tyler Hummel

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  2. Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

  3. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON || Review

  4. Killers of the Flower Moon Malayalam Movie Review

COMMENTS

  1. 'Killers of the Flower Moon' and Stewarding Hard Stories

    As much as it's a masterful piece of filmmaking by one of the greatest living directors, Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon is hard to watch. It's hard because of the subject matter: a horrific true story of greed, racism, and the murder of dozens of members of the Native American Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma. But it's also hard because of the runtime: a whopping 3 hours ...

  2. Killers of the Flower Moon

    MOVIE REVIEW. Killers of the Flower Moon ... M artin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon" is epic in its length, its scale, and its undoing. The film is based on the non-fiction bestseller of the same name by David Grann. A journalist by profession, Grann relates the Osage saga with detached precision allowing unfolding events and ...

  3. Killers of the Flower Moon (Christian Movie Review)

    Without action set pieces, Killers of the Flower Moon relies heavily on dramatic acting. The expansive cast is more than up to the challenge. Scorsese mainstays Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro are both excellent. As the film's title suggests, the focus is often on the killers. Putting antagonists at the forefront of a movie is a risky ...

  4. Movie Review: 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

    Movie Review: 'Anyone But You'. Emotional ambiguity pervades the dramatization "Killers of the Flower Moon" (Paramount/Apple TV+). Epic yet intimate, director and co-writer Martin Scorsese's masterful recounting of real-life events in 1920s Oklahoma is too gritty for kids, but deeply rewarding for grown-ups and possibly acceptable for older ...

  5. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

    KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON deserves significant caution from an entertainment, artistic and moral perspective, for all viewers. Thus, Director Martin Scorsese crafts a banal, overlong story, with some extreme violence, foul language and a lack of redemptive values or good role models to contrast the movie's greedy, vicious criminal protagonists.

  6. Martin Scorsese's Faith Shines in 'Killers of The Flower Moon'

    It's deeply fitting and gratifying that Scorsese's career-long struggle with God would lead to possibly his best and most Christian film to date. Hopefully his work will inspire others to wrestle with God and imagine the world as well as he does. "Killers of The Flower Moon" is exclusively in theaters on Oct. 20.

  7. Killers of the Flower Moon

    In Killers of the Flower Moon, Scorsese gives us another cautionary tale, but without the gratuity. Yes, he's aided by the movie's time setting, when the f-word wasn't hurled like pebbles on a playground. Yes, the movie is still rated R, and with reason. Killers mangle bodies and snuff out lives with barely a backward glance.

  8. Review

    Review by Ann Hornaday. October 18, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. EDT ... If "Killers of the Flower Moon" isn't as purely pleasurable to watch as Scorsese's most canonical movies, that doesn't mean ...

  9. Killers of the Flower Moon movie review (2023)

    Killers of the Flower Moon. "Can you find the wolves in this picture," Ernest Burkhardt ( Leonardo DiCaprio) reads aloud as he works his way through a children's book early in Martin Scorsese 's "Killers of the Flower Moon.". The wolves aren't really hidden at all, and they won't be in the film that follows either, a masterful ...

  10. 'Killers of the Flower Moon' Review: An Unsettling Masterpiece

    The movie is based on David Grann's 2017 book "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I.," a nonfiction account of how, in the early 20th century, greedy ...

  11. 'Killers of the Flower Moon': Martin Scorsese says he's still learning

    Read the Monitor's review of "Killers of the Flower Moon." "Killers of the Flower Moon," a $200-million, 206-minute epic produced by Apple that's in theaters Friday, is an audacious ...

  12. 'Killers of the Flower Moon' review: Scorsese centers men and violence

    Martin Scorsese's film, based on David Grann's book, tells the true story of white men in the 1920s who married into and systematically murdered Osage families to gain claims to their oil-rich land.

  13. Killers of the Flower Moon review: Exquisitely mounted, impeccably

    Killers of the Flower Moon review: Exquisitely mounted, impeccably finished and just a little worthy You couldn't call the film fun, but it is an eminently responsible engagement with ugly ...

  14. Killers of the Flower Moon

    Rotten Tomatoes, home of the Tomatometer, is the most trusted measurement of quality for Movies & TV. The definitive site for Reviews, Trailers, Showtimes, and Tickets

  15. Killers of the Flower Moon

    Based on David Grann's broadly lauded best-selling book, "Killers of the Flower Moon" is set in 1920s Oklahoma and depicts the serial murder of members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation, a string of ...

  16. Review: 'Killers of the Flower Moon' is a solemn epic and a twisted romance

    Until an ending that finds a surreal way to tell us the final fates of these real-life "characters," "Killers of the Flower Moon" is a handsome, almost stately movie. Scorsese is a great stylist ...

  17. 'Killers of the Flower Moon' review: Scorsese's flawed epic

    By Justin Chang Film Critic. Oct. 19, 2023 3 AM PT. Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon" begins in the heavily shrouded darkness of an Osage tribal ceremony, a somber occasion that ...

  18. Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

    Killers of the Flower Moon: Directed by Martin Scorsese. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons. When oil is discovered in 1920s Oklahoma under Osage Nation land, the Osage people are murdered one by one - until the FBI steps in to unravel the mystery.

  19. Killers of the Flower Moon review

    M artin Scorsese's western true-crime thriller is about the US's Osage murders of the early 1920s, based on the nonfiction bestseller by David Grann.With co-writer Eric Roth, Scorsese crafts ...

  20. Killers Of The Flower Moon Review

    Killers Of The Flower Moon Review. Oklahoma, the 1920s. When Native Americans of the Osage tribe are systematically murdered, federal investigators step in. In a heartbreaking recent interview ...

  21. 'Killers of the Flower Moon' Review: Lily Gladstone Devastates in

    Clocking in at 206 minutes, "Killers of the Flower Moon" displays tremendous vigor and vitality through the early going. That's to do with Robbie Robertson's rumbling and rustling score, slide guitars that slice open the mood to pour intoxicating notes onto immaculate compositions that suggest how much care Scorsese and cinematographer ...

  22. The Grim Heartbeat Propelling 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

    The movie is based on David Grann's appallingly all-too-true crime book from 2017, "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I." In adapting it to the screen ...

  23. Review

    Review. Since it was first conceived, Killers of the Flower Moon is a film that has been mired in controversy. Firstly, I drew criticism for its inordinately large price tag of $200 million to film it. Secondly, it drew the ire of Marvel fans who have declared Scorsese a personal enemy for complaining about superhero movies—finding his movies ...

  24. Killers of the Flower Moon

    Thanks to Factor for sponsoring. Use code STUCKMANN50 to get 50% off your first Factor box at https://bit.ly/3oi7QtG!Chris Stuckmann reviews Killers of the F...

  25. 'Killers of the Flower Moon: Differences Between Real Life and Movie

    Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Killers of the Flower Moon." Courtesy of Apple. Here are some major differences between the acclaimed nonfiction book about the Osage murders and the movie ...

  26. The Story Behind the 'Killers of the Flower Moon' Screenplay

    Eric Roth. Martin Scorsese 's Oscar-contender " Killers of the Flower Moon " (AppleTV+) went through many iterations on its way to the big screen. Scorsese and his co-writer, Oscar-winner ...

  27. Killers of the Flower Moon Ending Explained by Martin Scorsese

    Killers of the Flower Moon director Martin Scorsese has explained the surreal ending of his latest acclaimed movie. Twitter user @EmmaTolkin posted a video of the iconic filmmaker speaking at a ...

  28. Killers of the Flower Moon (2023) Review

    Killers of the Flower Moon is an epic drama incorporating Western elements and a web of intrigue and paranoia. Despite its staggering length of three and a half hours, the story is always moving ...