Killers of the Flower Moon by Martin Scorsese [5/10]

Didn’t we all hang out for Martin Scorsese’s three-and-a-half-hour magnum opus, Killers of the Flower Moon, based on David Grann’s ferocious 2017 nonfiction expose of American-Indian killings in the 1920s? Having missed out at the cinemas, I waited for the streamer offering and sank in for what I hoped was a classic Scorsese triumph. Alas, the film is a drastically overlong mess. For every scene dramatically and starkly posed and filmed (the best ones are the violent ones), there is a scene announced without scripting prompts, often baffling, or a dull plod of a scene underpinned by cheap throbbing music. Leonardo DiCaprio is valiant as Ernest, the easily led bad guy / fall guy, but his scripted dialogue is turgid, his scowls are false, and I cannot believe Grann’s novel treats him as a dumb clod as the film does. Robert De Niro offers a shallow villain and Lily Gladstone, while sometimes offering moving, plaintive tableau images, portrays her Osage victim as a klutz. The film’s overall tale of terrible wrongs committed in the name of money is virtuous but the entire storyline is telegraphed early and never properly dramatized. The denouement is sloppy. Overall, Killers of the Flower Moon may be worth watching for Scorsese completism but is a sorry coda to an illustrious career.

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