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  • Gareth Crook

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023) -8/10

Let’s address the duration of this at the start. It’s far too long and full disclosure I’ve split my viewing into three sessions. Maybe that offends the purists, this is Scorsese after all. He doesn’t really make short simple films though does he and to be fair, this one is pretty great. We open in the 20s (can we still say that, now we’re firmly in our own 20s). There’s an oil boom in Oklahoma. On Indian territory. Making its people, the Osage Nation very wealthy. That’s not going to last is it. Enter the white man. Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) back from the war, he’s new in Fairfax. There to stay with his uncle, William Hale (Robert De Niro) who’s got lots of advice for Ernest, but he doesn’t strike me as the best mentor. He seems to respect the Osage, lives amongst them, keeps the peace as the deputy sheriff. But something stinks and it’s not the oil. I guess where’s there’s money, there’s people there to take it. Fairfax feels like the Wild West. Wooden buildings and dirt roads, horses, but cars too. It’s like a playground for grifters. Ernest earns his keep as a driver. A taxi service. He picks up Mollie (Lily Gladstone), who’s “full blood estate”, meaning she’s got Indian money and William smells an opportunity. Ernest seems a bit slow, but a nice guy. Truth is though he’s not a nice guy, he is pretty stupid though and ruthless too. He’s honest with Mollie, to a point. Which is just as well, she’s sharp. They fall in love and William escalates his manipulation. The pace is slow to start, despite there being a lot going on, but his is a simple story of greed and being patient. Ernest, William and all the white men are like a cancer or better put, “like buzzards circling our people”. The Osage see what’s happening with the cunning, sneaky parasitic white man, but how to stop it. The cast is impressive, the score fantastic. It looks authentic as you’d expect with the budget this has. I mean what I know about this era is limited, but you’re thrust right into the narrative of this world and it certainly looks faithful. Ernest and Mollie are the focus, but it’s a clash of cultures. One that it’s easy to take sides on, there’s no mixed messages, even if DiCaprio is brilliant caught in the middle. De Niro is great too as the back stabling, scumbag villain, but no one outshines Gladstone, shes magnificent, understated yet powerful. Even when prayed upon. Insightful, she’s the shining light of hope in an otherwise bleak tale, the one we hang our hopes of justice on. There’s a tense unstated score that pulses away as things get more dangerous. It grabs you by the throat and helps you forget your arse has gone numb. With the FBI snooping (Jesse Plemons makes a fantastic FBI man) and other complications, things could get messy and they do. It’s not really dawned on me whether we’re dealing with historical facts here, but I’m guessing the characters are dramatised, they feel like Scorsese gangsters, but the backbone is probably based in fact. Yes it’s long, but stick with it, it’s great throughout and brilliant at its end with some lovely touches to round out the story.


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