A 50-year career condensed into 57 films. An iconic figure who laid the foundation for the evolution of cinema and left his mark with many classics. Despite reaching the age of 80, he continues to churn out films tirelessly, with new ones in the pipeline. Finding the words to describe his career and films is a daunting task. Nevertheless, it’s time to raise some points for discussion. Yes, Scorsese still manages to make a statement through his work. However, at least for me, there has been a decline in the quality of his films over the past decade. Films like “Silence” and “The Irishman,” which we had the chance to see after “The Wolf of Wall Street,” while visually satisfying, seemed somewhat lacking in substance. Of course, I’m trying to be respectful when discussing a legend. They are, well, a bit dull. “Killers of the Flower Moon” unfortunately doesn’t seem to deviate from these films. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.
Let’s briefly touch on the plot. The film is set in 1920s Oklahoma and tells the story of the natives who struck it rich with oil in the region and the settler White Americans who try to marry their young daughters in an attempt to share in their wealth. In short, they’re being opportunistic. However, coincidentally, the natives in the town begin to mysteriously die. Just as all of this unfolds, Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), returning from the war, moves in with his uncle William Hale (Robert De Niro).
First and foremost, I’d like to focus on the film’s strengths. Yes, the film is unfortunately dull, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. The film does a particularly commendable job on a cultural level. Through its lens turned to rural America of the 1920s and the natives living there, it offers us a delightful spectacle in terms of tradition and culture. Especially for films with a broad foundation and cultural knowledge, longer runtimes are the right choice. For example, this year’s release, “The Creator’s” most significant problem was its short duration. “Killers of the Flower Moon,” despite the criticisms, is a film that deserves its 3-hour length, managing to fill its content visually. As a generation accustomed to one-minute videos, watching a 3-hour film may be quite demanding, but it’s the right way to go. I’ve always appreciated Scorsese’s approach to cinema in this regard.
What makes the film striking, despite all its dullness, is the moral contemplations it offers. The selfishness of white Americans, who would go to the extent of killing their loved ones for money and power, is vividly portrayed in the film. One of the most impressive aspects of Scorsese’s films is his straightforward depiction of brutality. Rather than adding cinematic flair to deaths, he prefers to show the fragility of life in all its purity. Throughout the film, the despicable actions of ignorant white Americans for money, immorality, and depravity are portrayed in a straightforward and unfiltered manner through Scorsese’s lens. As they continually sink to even greater depths, it gives the audience much to ponder.
Certainly, it’s essential to commend the performers who bring to life the despicable actions of this immoral white community. The character choices for the film are truly incredible. Kelsie Morrison (Louis Cancelmi), John Wren (Tatanka Means), Blackie (Tommy Schultz), John Ramsey (Ty Mitchell), Pitts Beaty (Gene Jones), and many others enrich the visuals of the film with their portrayals. My favorite aspect of the film, despite its capacity to make the audience question the ugliness it portrays, is that the acting doesn’t fall behind. There’s no need for long-winded sentences. Leonardo is truly a magnificent actor. Robert De Niro, I believe, was doing a Trump impression throughout the film – a superb actor, nonetheless. But in my opinion, the individual who deserves our attention is Lily Gladstone, who is on the verge of making a significant error by nearly concluding her acting career. Her perpetually serene demeanor, the intelligence hidden behind her calmness, the shy smiles that suddenly grace her neutral countenance, and her nimble use of the native language – these are what set Lily Gladstone apart. With her performance, she left me in awe. I would be delighted to see her among the Oscar nominees.
Now, let’s address the film’s main issue. The film is culturally rich, its characters are avaricious, and the acting is outstanding, so why is it boring? Scorsese’s films have always had their ups and downs. However, for the past ten years, the films he’s been associated with have progressed in a linear fashion. It’s as if you’ve embarked on a tour of a cinematic tunnel, and you’re sitting in your seat, moving through the tunnel, gazing around as a spectator. If I were to describe “Killers of the Flower Moon” as a documentary-style film set in the 1920s, I wouldn’t be far off. Despite the film’s visual richness, its storytelling style is rather bland.
So much so that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the film lacks a proper conclusion. The film begins, and its potentially most striking segment, which is the ending, is executed in a straightforward manner and just ends. Someone not keeping track of time during the film would only realize they’ve reached the conclusion when they see Scorsese on the screen. The only feature distinguishing “Killers of the Flower Moon” from “Silence” and “The Irishman” is that it manages to be enjoyable. With moments that elicit laughter, it doesn’t carry the ultra-boring attributes of the previous two. However, the essence remains the same – opulent visuals but monotonous narratives.
In conclusion, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” despite its cultural and visual richness, is somewhat dull, even monotonous. While it provides the audience with plenty of moments to discuss and ponder over due to the avarice of white Americans and the immorality they inflict, the story’s lack of ups and downs creates the impression of watching a documentary. I’m sorry, but that’s how it feels. At least for me, the one detail that kept me engaged in the film until the end was Lily Gladstone. She delivered an unforgettable performance in her role as Mollie. Among the films by the director over the past ten years, including “Silence” and “The Irishman,” there isn’t much that lingers in my memory, but “Killers of the Flower Moon” is set apart by one singular detail: Lily Gladstone.
Cast & Crew
director: Martin Scorsese
writers: Eric Roth, Martin Scorsese, David Grann
starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser
USA | 2023 | 146 MINUTES |