When director Martin Scorsese decides to work with Leonardo DiCaprio on a project the result is normally nothing short of spectacular. Together in the past the duo have made screen classics like Gangs Of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island and The Wolf Of Wall Street. Now the pair come together for a seventh time to make the dramatic Killers of The Flower Moon.
Taken from the novel by David Gann Killers Of The Flower Moon tells the story of Ernest Buckhart (DiCaprio) a simple soldier who goes to live with his uncle, William Hale (Robert De Niro – Cape Fear), in Oklahoma after returning from World War I.
Upon arrival in the Osage Nation he is surprised to see the wealth that has been generated by the oil business and finds himself wanting to be part of it. While working as a chauffeur he meets and falls in love with the beautiful and wealthy Mollie Burkhart (Lily Gladstone – Certain Women). As their relationship develops his Uncle announces a sinister, murderous plan that will end up seeing himself and Ernest end up with the entire fortune that Mollie’s family have managed to generate.
While there are enough twists and turns to cause them to worry at times the plan seems like it is working until a gifted young FBI Agent named Tom White (Jesse Plemons – The Irishman) turns up in town determined to solve the murders that have left the Osage living in fear.
One of the first things that people need to know about Killers Of The Flower Moon is that it runs for a mammoth three and a half hours… and there are rumours that there is an even longer cut out there somewhere. While audiences won’t necessarily notice the length of the film while watching it they will also realise that there really was need for Scorsese to make this film run so long.
At the heart of Killers Of The Flower Moon is a simple murder story. Unlike other filmmakers Scorsese doesn’t muck around with trying to make his audience guess who the killer is – Hale murderous plan is put out in the open very early on in the film. What draws you into the plot as an audience member is not wanting to see anything bad happen to Mollie and wondering what the hell will become of Ernest by the time the end credits roll.
While the film itself is amazing to watch some audience members will find themselves walking away from it slightly disappointed. If they go into this expecting something as brilliant as Scorsese’s masterpieces, The Departed or Shutter Island, then they will be sorely disappointed. While the film is still a worthy watch there is no big twist or shocking moment that will have you talking about it in a decade to come. To be honest there is probably nothing in Killers Of The Flower Moon that makes it any better than an episode of Yellowstone.
What does draw you in with the film though is the brilliant screenplay by Scorsese and Eric Roth (Dune). Each scene feels like a masterclass in screenwriting as Scorsese choses to go the more dialogue and character driven route rather than fast car chases and epic stunts. Even the cat and mouse scenes between DiCaprio and Plemons are heavily dialogue driven, but they are so well written that they never make the film feel like it is dragging.
That well written script also allows for some spectacular acting performances. Lily Gladstone is sensational as one of toughest ‘victims’ you will ever seen on screen while the three leading men put in performances that will be hard to ignore come Oscar season.
Robert De Niro is brilliant playing a character that shifts between the most charming man in the room and chillingly terrifying in an instant while playing against Di Caprio will divide audiences as he plays the villain for once. Ernest is perhaps one of the most fascinating characters to appear in cinema this year as audiences will find themselves hating him for what he is doing to Mollie but also feeling sorry for him as he falls under the spell of his Uncle.
Then there is the performance of Jesse Plemons. As an actor Plemons often stole the show with his under-rated role in the hit television series Friday Night Lights and from there he has shown his acting range on the big screen as he tackles everything from comedy through to hard-hitting drama. Here he does his best John Wayne as he plays a Texan law man resolute on solving the crime at hand – and his portrayal of the role deserves to be award-winning.
Killers Of The Flower Moon may not have as many memorable moments as some of Scorsese’s classics but it is still an amazing film that sees one of the best directors of modern cinema direct an amazing cast who all bring their A-Games.