So guys, it turns out I have Puerto Rican, Dutch, Guatemalan and INDIAN links in my heritage; it’s honestly a lot for me to keep track of. However, the more links and chains I discovered about my ancestry……the more it made me realize I HAD to see “Killers Of The Flower Moon” at SOME POINT.
As the first ever Martin Scorsese film I’ve seen in theaters, this is an experience I will forever treasure. THIS is a MUST-SEE event.
One thing I love about Scorsese’s directing is how clear he is about his purpose and even with an expansive scope, he never loses the focus of the feature; here, it’s no different. He has unwavering confidence in this queasy narrative propulsion even as he weaves together different genres seamlessly in concert in a muted righteous fury.
I am so jealous of how meticulously crafted this entire production came to be. First of all, it’s an interesting presentation: constructed like both a western and crime thriller with the usual Scorsesean elements as both a work of history and heightened political correctness. It has immaculate production design, where the vastness of the look, feel and setting of the times achieves a sense of cultural anthropology especially as the cinematography is dipped in this hyper-realistic stylistic flourish that makes use of both modern and old-school sensibilities, beautiful in composition and color-correction.
Costumes are accurate to the time period, mood is appropriately dense in both deafeningly loud and quiet, the scope of the story falls into slippery patterns and movements as the extent of its intentions begin to emerge into focus and the pacing is essentially pristine.
Across a herculean 206 minutes, we have unhurried editing that never drags or plods along, a languid pace that packs a steady insistent pulse to every scene, and the length itself feels necessary especially with this slow droning score, that borders on bluesy and tenderness, serving as the films heartbeat.
I legitimately could not pick a favorite performance out of this entire ensemble because everyone does so well. Leonardo DiCaprio’s malleable display of cowardice, Lily Gladstones somber, soulful presence that still commands the screen through restrained nuance or Robert DeNiros sly charismatic malice makes for just a few of many other potential highlights.
For any fans familiar with Scorsese’s style, this story is common ground for him: he’s used to tackling our offhand capacity for evil, the inherent violence of relationships, the strain of serving two masters and it’s no less different here. But its UN-Hollywood-esque execution makes it stick out like a sore thumb in the best of ways.
Shifting the spotlight away from the actual Osage killings and strictly onto Mollie and Ernest’s toxic marriage was an indefinitely tricky line to tightrope across and balance out (and I can certainly understand why people would be upset about the film focusing on the latter rather than the former), but as a portrait to paint America’s revolting treatment of the indigenous and beyond, I always saw that as kind of the point. WHO tells the story matters just as much as the story BEING TOLD. The script is rich and ripe with texture and context with no filler in-between, placing great emphasis on claustrophobia and a type of gangsterism that America has continuously refused to confront while swerving away from another white-savior narrative. Having that tale be told through the lens of an elusive and tragic “love” story while having those frantic and moral ambitions constantly clash over who gets to tell their truth, their side of the story? Can’t think of a better way to center a moral dilemma around that.
This is less a story about who did and didn’t do it, as it is about a culture of killing and a culture of complicity; the cancerous temptation of fear and greed that creates this sense of ongoing and EASYGOING genocide that can STILL be traced to the present day. At this point, Scorsese isn’t asking; he’s DEMANDING audiences to take a wider look at systematic racism, historical injustice and corruptive influence of power and money.
It ain’t nothing new so to speak and in a way, it still does dramatize the truth of these events to nobody’s liking but a less self-conscious and talented director wouldn’t be able to make a story this overdue this emphatic or sincere.
It’s personal in how plain-spoken it is, sorrowful in its scathing indictment of American greed, and wise in the voice it tells the story to us, understanding full well it’s not their story to tell. My first Scorsese film in theaters is one I’d consider a massive success.