Killers of the Flower Moon
Ok so it is the MAMI weekend but there was no way in the world that I was going to miss out on the big theatrical release, the Martin Scorsese directed film Killers Of The Flower Moon. Martin Scorsese is a genre filmmaker and his slow burns have earned a name for themselves. But the man isn’t slowly down even at the age of 85 by serving another magnum opus in the form of Killers Of The Flower Moon. Now, I was briefly reading its premise before venturing into the film and it opened a whole new world for me on a lesser talked incident from the American History.
When it comes to the racial discrimination in a country like America, it is often restricted to the Whites vs The Blacks for the world. But there is also a slender section of indigenous tribes that exist in the society, who have been privy to passive discrimination over the years. And there was a brief period wherein the members of the clan were tactfully eliminated while acquiring their property and land as a part of their inheritance, while terming the deaths as either suicides or accidents. This is where the world had come to, and it surely ain’t learning anything in current times as well! And given that Killers Of The Flower Moon was directed by Martin Scorsese, I knew the subject was in safe hands. Also, a quick look at the star-cast and you know that this was destined to be an epic saga. So then, does Killers Of The Flower Moon manage to impress, let’s find out.
Story & Screenplay
Based on a novel by the same name which was inspired by true events, Killers Of The Flower Moon follows the story behind the mysterious deaths of the members of the Osage community that unravel after oil being discovered in Oklahoma. The story is straight from the shameful and disturbing chapter of American History which isn’t talked about much. The searing commentary of good vs evil takes a new spin with the central virtue being of greed, something that never has had any limits traditionally. The screenplay standing at a whopping runtime of over 200 minutes is compelling to the core, although you will feel a pinch with respect to the length in the second hour. Having said that, the writing is sharp and unabashed while potentially constructing a searing drama that lingers on long after it has ended!
The drama begins by setting the context very early on wherein the members of the Osage community are blessed with oil in their fields, thus changing the fate of their entire clan. And fate here works both ways given how they turn to be rich while also imposing the fact that greed has been lurking around the corner in the form of The Whites who are unassumingly friendly but a pack of wolves waiting to take their wealth. Soon, you are introduced to the protagonist(or was he the antagonist) who is planted by his uncle to court and marry a woman from the Osage clan with a motive that is sinister as ever. I have always enjoyed culture on celluloid and the drama did give me several reference points with respect to the culture of the Osage tribe that I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing.
Films featuring Scorsese, always have an emaculate amount of world building and some outstandingly written characters that set the mood of the drama perfectly. And Killers Of The Flower Moon is no different. The town of Oklahoma is representative of the leisurely paced narrative which does translate to the drama being a slow burn. But the soul of the drama lies in the characters who are often double-faced with deftly changing equations that make for a compelling watch which is deeply disturbing in many ways. And the technique of producing moments against the tide, do have a potential to startle you time and again throughout the narrative. The non-hurried narrative almost has a simmering impact on the viewers with the ghastly acts committed by some of the characters of the film who wish to win at all cost(seems familiar?).
One minor criticism around the film might essentially be its length, and I do partially agree with it given that some of the moments are slightly stretched in the second hour, particularly in the interrogation scenes. But a few moments formulate for some of the most heartbreaking scenes that I have witnessed all year on celluloid. The subtle nuances in the screenplay are worth taking note of including the significance of the Flower Moon that represents a sense of hope after a bitter weather, something that the drama does for the Osage community as well. Overall, the screenplay is wonderfully written and adapted for the screen.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and it is worth mentioning that this is drama in the truest sense and you need to pay attention to the lines to get the grasp of the events unfolding. The BGM is rustic and Western, and it amplifies the impact of several scenes. The cinematography deftly captures the chaos through some very still frames while also representing the mood of the drama perfectly. The editing of the film is good barring one scene which seemed to be chopped off by the censor board. Director Martin Scorsese is a living legend who has adapted his filmmaking technique through generations. And yet again, he has served another simmering slow burn by creating several disturbing moments along the way, the effects of which linger on, long after the film has ended. It is an absolute honour to study his filmmaking onscreen, and I loved how he keeps things simple while adding layers of finesse in his impeccable craft! The direction was brilliant!
The performances are outstanding by the ensemble cast. Jesse Plemons as Tom White is endearing and righteous in a sincere little act. Brendan Fraser as Hamilton is first rate despite a limited screen time. Lily Gladstone as Mollie was my favourite character and she delivered a brilliantly heartfelt performance wherein your empathies are always with the character. Robert De Niro as King delivers another towering acting masterclass as the sinister character who plots the downfall of the tribe in the most unassuming character. He was brilliant to the core. Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest is an absolute treat to watch in a character that will keep you guessing. Yes, he isn’t a very likable character but does show moments of affection while being oblivious of the fact that he was a mere pawn in the game all along. All other actors deliver top notch performances too.
Killers Of The Flower Moon is a gentle immersive tale of betrayal packaged in a simmering disturbing saga that comes with my highest recommendation. And this is cinema! Available in a theatre near you and Highly Recommended.