Killers of the Flower Moon review: capitalism for Scorsese

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The review of Killers of the Flower Moon, Martin Scorsese’s latest film based on the book by David Grann starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, with at its center the relationship between good and evil in the hyper-capitalist United States of the post-war period

ORIGINAL TITLE: Killers of the Flower Moon. TYPE: dramatic. NATION: United States. REGIA: Martin Scorsese. CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, Janae Collins, Jillian Dion, William Belleau, Lily Gladstone, Jason Isbell, Louis Cancelmi, Scott Shepherd, Sturgill Simpson, Gary Basaraba, Michael Abbott Jr., David Born. DURATION: approximately 206 minutes. DISTRIBUTOR: 01 Distribution. EXIT: 19/10/2023.

Inspired by the book by David Grann Killers of the Red Earth, Killers of the Flower Moon is set in 1920s Oklahoma. But if in the novel the point of greatest interest is the birth of the FBI, with the character of agent Tom White at the center of everything, Scorsese completely distorts the point of view, takes a step back and talks about the genesis of those events that were all in all very important for American history but at the same time a reflection of a society of the recent past – if not the present. The result is a crime story not like the many that today saturate streaming and podcast platforms, but much more refined, in full line with the poetics of the New York director. At the center there are people who are, after all, ordinary, with their rottenness and their contradictions, not an upright man with a badge who is only barely outlined at the end.

Trama e trailer | Review Killers of the Flower Moon

At stake is the Osage oil, a Native American tribe that became richer than the Americans themselves thanks to the possession of the deposits and therefore destined to be exterminated by the greed of the white man. Ernest Burkhart fought in World War I and returned to his native country Fairfax in search of fortune. His uncle William Hale promised him a job within the Osage Indian Nation and on his advice Ernest marries a Native American woman, Molly (Lily Gladstone), partly because he hopes to appropriate his riches, partly because he is truly in love with them.

However in the Indian Nation the Osage are getting sick and dying one after another of a strange “consumption” or that melancholy that the conquerors are happy to let them drown in alcohol. Those deaths are strategic and are also affecting Molly’s family. And the town of Fairfax is full of desperate people ready to commit murder, theft and robbery, knowing that the law will turn a blind eye to those who target the “redskins”, although not for long. The sensational noise of some deaths pushes the United States Government to send investigators from a newly created special force to Oklahoma, theFBI.

A love story (for money) | Killers Of The Flower Moon Review

In Killers of the Flower Moon Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, the symbolic actors of Scorsese’s career, past and present, carry on them the weight of the director’s entire filmography and also of the original sin of the United States: the American dream is not only a mirage, but it’s a nightmare paid for with the blood of non-whites. In this case through arranged marriages, almost in medieval style, in which the victims are also partially aware of the deception. Mollie admits that Ernest reminds her of a coyote in search of food (or rather money), yet she cannot help but want him: perhaps because of his blue eyes, perhaps because, the moment she allowed herself to be corrupted by wealth, she lost sight of that of its people, linked more to land and sharing than to private property. The fact is that her love for him consumes her, just like her illness. Even in the face of the systematic killing of so many Osage, Mollie often remains silent, stoic, and watches.

The paradoxical thing is that, despite his crimes, despite his blind obedience to his uncle, who asks him to commit increasingly worse atrocities, Ernest also loves Mollie. But he loves money more and above all he is unable to find his own identity and escape Hale’s will, completely dissociating the part linked to his wife from the part ready to exterminate an entire population simply because it has had its day. This is the complexity that interests Scorsese, this is the greatest of mysteries: the contradictions of the human soul. A contradiction that also manifests itself in the relationship between the spiritual of the natives and the material of the whites. From religion to capitalism. From God to money.

Killers of the Flower Moon review: capitalism for Scorsese

More and more Scorsese | Killers Of The Flower Moon Review

There is all of Scorsese’s cinema in Killers of the Flower Moon: it is a gangster movie, a spiritual film, a western, a crime film. In 3 hours and 30 minutes (the same as The Irishman but, it must be said, less flowing) the director touches on themes very dear to him as usual. Criminals, men hungry for power, who however there is nothing fascinating about them: represents them as dull, not at all charismatic and not at all leaders. The emotional and moral center are instead Mollie and her sisters: in the dignity of the woman, in her ability to respond with empathy to the people around her, she is the true wealth of the Osage Nation, wasted and trampled on by those who cannot understand it. Where Mollie is hope, life, Ernest is self-destruction. Like a poison, capitalism has made American society sick. And we all wanted it: those who rode the hunt for gold and those who suffered it without opposing it.

Also thanks to a happy intuition of the same Leonardo DiCaprio, Scorsese shifts the point of view to the slimy and mediocre Ernest Burkhart, DiCaprio in fact. The actor has never been so unpleasant: just like someone who, out of convenience and lack of talent, always follows a leader, not stopping in the face of terrible crimes and denying the truth to the last, even in the face of evidence. And if the leader in question is William Hale (Robert De Niro) who, first of all, says to both Ernest and the spectators: you can call me uncle, or you can call me king.

Killers of the Flower Moon review: capitalism for Scorsese


To conclude the review of Killers of the Flower Moon, we can say that Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone are the four cornerstones of an excellent film which, despite some too much fan service (cameos and obvious jokes) tell the story well dark side of the American dream, a mirage paid for with the blood of non-whites. Directing is an author now at the peak of his mastery of the medium of cinema, who in a sea of ​​films that are increasingly similar to each other has the courage to be himself. But Killers of the Flower Moon is also great thanks to its rich and magnificent cast. De Niro is giving his best performance in years, DiCaprio evokes the most worn-out and decadent Marlon Brando, Lily Gladstone is perfect and already in the running for an Oscar nomination. For better or worse, it is an unmissable film.

Capitalism under the magnifying glass

Points in favor

  • DiCaprio and De Niro are exceptional
  • Excellent script and very high technical level

Points against

  • The cameos feel like too much fan service
  • The duration is excessive

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