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“Killers of the Flower Moon”: Killer reception, poor opening

Despite its staggering run-time and production costs, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is worth seeing this holiday break.

 

 

In just a year, it seemed like an epidemic occurred with the increase in deaths for the Native Americans of the Osage tribe; coincidentally, these deaths came around the time of increase in wealth in oil money for the people, but it became apparent that the deaths were not a coincidence, but something more sinister, something like a murder. 

The movie, which cost a staggering $200 million to create, is based on the true story of the murders that took place in the Osage nation in 1920s Oklahoma. According to author David Grann, oil was discovered in the native territory, making the land valuable – but that find put a target on the Osages’ backs. 

Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Mollie Burkhart (Lily Gladstone) formally meet each other. (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+ and Paramount Pictures)

Directed by Martin Scorsese, and after years of delays from COVID, ”Killers of the Flower Moon” finally managed its way onto the big screen on Oct. 20. With the Screenplay being adapted from the novel of the same name written by David Grann, the plot follows Ernest Burkhart, a WW1 soldier, returning to his uncle’s home in Oklahoma where he finds out that in the time he was gone, the Osage tribe of the area is thriving with riches coming from there oil filled land. After returning, Ernest’s uncle, William Hale devises a sinister plan to take the oil-rich land and wealth for white folks. William, the sheriff, and chief of the town plans for Ernest to marry an Osage tribe member and murder her family to inherit  the wealth. Amidst all the bloodshed, they must avoid the Osage people, and, later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is easily a movie that has so many ups and downs when it comes to the film. With a movie this long, there are a bunch of aspects that may be flawed – in fact, this might be one of Scorsese most flawed movies when it comes to the editing. The pacing of the movie at times, and audio in some scenes where viewers barely hear the dialogue. Yet, at the end of the film, the aspects that make it work really outshine the faults viewers may find. The plot keeps the viewer intrigued throughout the whole film, the performances assuredly enhance the film, and the cinematography which has a multitude of fluid and beautiful shots are all aspects that really make this film a must-see for anyone who enjoys history or just enjoys style of Scorsese because there is no film like this anywhere else.

Clocking in at just under three hours and thirty minutes, “Killers of the Flower Moon” may intimate some moviegoers with its long runtime. Yet, coming into the theater with that knowledge, fans will find that the plot manages to keep a fast pace compared to other movies with similar lengths. Despite its length, viewers can also understand the need to tell a story that is full of emotion and devastation, making sure the audience feels the hardships and pain the Osages endured.

As such, moviegoers will feel engaged and invested throughout the majority of the movie, besides a couple of scenes that bring the momentum of the film to a grinding halt. The film can cut between a scene of a gruesome murder of an Osage tribe victim and the very next scene containing just heavy dialogue for five minutes, which shifts the viewer’s engagement and the tempo of the movie.

Members of the Osage tribe are pictured in 1865. (Royalty-free photo courtesy of William Henry Blackmore via Wikimedia Commons)

Yet in scenes where the audience is engaged, it is all thanks to the performances from all the actors in the movie, a fantastic script, and it being a Scorsese-directed movie the film allowed every actor to portray their character perfectly.

The trifecta of Lily Gladstone, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Robert De Niro was something that was easily the highlight of the film and was a major reason viewers found themselves sticking through the runtime.

Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart especially steals the scene anytime she’s on screen and her portrayal of Mollie is a highlight of the film as she plays her role so naturally and in line with the film that it easily can be considered Oscar-worthy.

De Niro as expected does a phenomenal role: even after 50+ years in the film industry, he still manages to surprise the audience with his acting, and just like Gladstone, he seamlessly transitions into his character. It is easy to see how much De Niro cared for his role as a two-faced villain.

As for DiCaprio, per usual, he gives a great performance, also playing a two-faced character. The holy trinity between the three actors is what helps audiences stay engaged through the length of the film.

When the audience is engaged in this long and dark film, one expects it to build up to a dramatic ending that makes the viewer feel some sort of emotion towards every character  portrayed in the film, however, the ending, unfortunately, felt rushed, to say the least. For the whole movie, the viewer witnesses the events that rampaged the Osage tribe, including murders and the subsequent trial, but what is portrayed in the film feels dull compared to the rest of the movie. The last minutes of the film wrap up what took place over the next years, following the verdict of the trial, from the perspective of a radio announcer who speaks on the outcomes. His presence and voiceover is such a major shift in terms of pacing and contribute to an anticlimactic ending.

Overall, “Killers of the Flower Moon” was a historical epic that was significant in its depiction of the cruel and unspoken part of American history of the Osages’ murders, accurately representing a dark time in their history. To pay tribute to the people of the Osage tribe in a really touching way manages to build sorrow and misery for the people: a mission that took place over 100 years ago and was swept under the carpet is finally being told. 

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About the Contributor
Sebastian Alarcon, Multimedia Content Creator
Sebastian Alarcon is a senior at WCCHS and a first-year journalism student. Formerly, he was a dedicated soccer player for 14 years. Sebastian is a very sociable, friendly, and charismatic individual who loves connecting with others. Currently, Sebastian works at Sonny Acres and is also in the process of deciding which college to attend out of state. When he is not studying or working, he plays tennis and does some boxing on the side. In his free time, Sebastian likes to listen to music for example rap, and Spanish rock, and also watch movies.
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  • Mrs. GierzynskiNov 27, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Great movie analysis. I never trust the usual reviewers, since my tastes differ from theirs. But you helped me decide if I go to a theater, or wait until it’s streaming.