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‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ - a grand undertaking

By Jack McLaughlin

Arts & Features Editor

One of the most influential directors of our time is Martin Scorsese. His vast catalog of films that spans over five decades has cemented him as a legend whose influence cannot be stated enough.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is his latest offering. It’s based on the book by the same name, and follows an investigation of the mysterious killings of the Osage tribe in Oklahoma in the 1920s.

The story focuses on Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his uncle William Hale (Robert DeNiro) and their involvement in these killings. Ernest’s wife Mollie (Lily Gladstone) plays an important role in this dynamic as she is a member of the Osage tribe.

The presentation and pacing is where this film excels the most technically. The film boasts a staggering 3 hour and 26 minute runtime, which seems daunting until you realize each scene holds so much importance that you’re rarely checking your watch.

Pacing is slow - sure. But the story and characters are so captivating that you become less concerned with the runtime and more excited with how the plot is going to unfold.

“Flower Moon” was mostly shot on 35mm film, and you can immediately tell as small visual details like film grain and a warmer aesthetic are present throughout. This gives the film a style that matches the time that it takes place in, and helps further engross you in the world of this massive story.

Shots look incredible in here as well. There are particular moments in the very beginning and end that look phenomenal and demand to be seen on a huge screen.

The sound design here was also excellent. So many scenes have fantastic ambient noise throughout and I found myself looking around the theater trying to figure out where it was coming from - and only one of those times it was another patron’s phone alarm that went off for 10 minutes.

The biggest pro and con of this movie are the performances. Lily Gladstone is the standout here, being able to convey such a wide range of emotions while maintaining such an amazing presence on-screen. DeNiro is also incredible here, being a friendly reminder of him and Scorsese’s powerful working relationship over the span of their careers.

The worst performance here, unfortunately, is Leonardo DiCapiro. This is especially troubling considering he is the main character of the story. Viewers know how strong he can act when paired with a director like Scorsese, which makes it all the more shocking that his performance is so weak.

Had another actor taken this role, this probably would have been a perfect movie.

He’s either under-acting or over-acting, and it becomes a game with how many times he’s going to make that same frowning face at the start of every scene he’s in. His performance simply feels so much weaker when he’s surrounded by every other actor giving it their all in this story.

There were too many moments to count where I kept thinking to myself how grossly miscast he felt in this - but it was almost impossible for me to think of someone else who could have done this role.

Even the supporting cast has some remarkable standouts. Jesse Plemons and Brendan Frasier are among the most memorable. Frasier especially captures a few great moments despite his inclusion in the film being so limited.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is not afraid to open the curtain and show audiences America’s dark history. It paints a realistic and grim depiction of the murders that occurred against the Osage tribe with the time and respect it deserves.

This is one of the best releases this year, and it deserves to be seen not only for being a remarkable achievement in cinema, but to also have knowledge of this important story in American history.

Rating: A-

A near perfect masterpiece

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