Scorsese’s new epic, Killers of the Flower Moon, is too long and dull to be given much praise.
This movie was no small undertaking for Scorsese, despite his prominence as one of the greatest directors of all time.
The film tackles a lesser-known part of American history; one where the Osage Nation’s vast lands are found to be rich in oil and thus white Americans flock there and ‘destroy’ their way of life – subsequently making the ‘people of the Middle Waters’ the richest peoples in the world per capita.
This idea for a film is brilliant, but in itself does not merit the film. Scorsese must do more than just make a film about them, he must tell their story properly and with impact.
In some ways, the film is similar to Christopher Nolan’s explosive Oppenhiemer. Both films are long, somewhat confusing narratives of often overlooked stories of history.
However, Oppenheimer has the edge on Killers of the Flower Moon in my opinion. The cinematography is better, Göransson’s score is fantastic, and I was hooked throughout. Killers of the Flower Moon just drags on for too long.
It gets repetitive and somewhat boring. At some points it seems as though the only thing keeping you awake is the erratic and chilling murdering, and then you are back to the dull carcass of the film.
Boredom sucks you out of the immersion and has you drumming your fingers on your knees whilst the 100th Osage is killed and you are still unphased.
Perhaps Scorsese wants the viewer to see the banality of evil revealed as in itself shocking. If so he has exceeded, it was shockingly banal.
Here the question should be considered whether Scorsese has any obligation to make the movie maximally entertaining alongside being educative? And is it even possible?
Viewers of the film will agree that there is a good amount to be learned within the film’s three and a half hour runtime. However, not as much as there is to be learned from David Grann’s book of the same name, upon which the film was based.
If you want to learn about the history of the Osage Nation, a reading of Grann may suit you better (and would take only an hour longer).
If the viewer is more interested in entertainment value, they would find their needs better fit by similar length epics like Ben Hur, Laurence of Arabia, Schindler’s List, The Godfather and even Scorsese’s own The Irishman – some of which educate and entertain, as this film ought to have done.
On a lighter note, however, Robbie Robertson’s soundtrack was quite good, and setting and costumes were excellently executed along with the dialogue.
Whilst Lily Gladstone’s performance was worthy of praise, DiCaprio’s acting was comically theatrical.
Some viewers may also like the explanatory theatrics at the end, and Scorsese’s personal involvement. I found it tacky however.
Watch this film after lots of coffee and, if possible, with a break halfway through.
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