Killers of The Flower Moon is a film that will certainly move you…
In the case of a man sat nearby, he moved out of the auditorium as soon as the BBFC title card appeared, clearly having entered the wrong room!
Still, for those of us who remained, I’ll give a brief introduction which would’ve been useful at the time, since we weren’t even told in which year the film was set at the start – a rather important factor, Scorsese, which was leaving me confused.dom!
World War I has come to a close, and this is the time of the annual “flower moon” phenomenon, where new large plant kill off the smaller ones over the Blackjack hills, around May. At the same time, some of the Osage tribesmen strike oil on their lands, but government laws mean they need to have their money managed by white guardians. Enter William Hale (Robert De Niro – Joker), who has befriended them, soon followed by his nephew Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio – Titanic 3D 25th Anniversary), who has returned from the war and is looking to his uncle for guidance.
As Meja once sang in 1998, it’s all about the money, and while many of the Kyle family (no, not Jeremy) have significant others, Hale wants Ernest to marry Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone), since her family own oil headrights, which means they’re richer than astronauts. As such, young Ernie will also be in the money… well, I say YOUNG Ernie, since Leo is almost 49, so for a soldier returning from the war, he’s at least 20 years too old.
Before long, one of her sisters, Minnie (Jillian Dion), starts feeling ill and passes away before too long. Was it a natural death? Well, with all that money sloshing around in the Texas Tea, it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that foul play is afoot, but who’s to blame?
Then more of her relatives, along with some other people, also meet an untimely end. How can they figure out what’s happening and put a stop to it? It also doesn’t help that Mollie has diabetes, and that back in the early 20th Century, it wasn’t as easy to treat as it is these days. Additionally, the Osage population blame white men for turning red blood white, by marrying them, so some casual racism on their part.
Amongst the horror of what’s happening, there’s quite a beautiful moment when their mother, Lizzie Q (Tantoo Cardinal – Eden, Wind River), passes away, and at that precise moment whilst surrounded by her family, she opens her eyes, they’re all gone, and she can only see spirit guides whp help her up, and escort her off on her journey. That was very affecting.
In addition to the initial premise, I wasn’t aware that when someone dies, that is why we are shown a pipe being buried, and at any funeral, apples are placed on the coffin lids.
Overall, Killers of The Flower Moon is very good, but also a slow burn as it’s very long: 3 hours and 26 minutes. This is 3 minutes shorter than Scorsese’s 2019 epic, The Irishman, and both feel rather like a long three or four-part TV series. Still, if you can sit through it in the cinema, it’s a recommended trip. The acting is also a strong standard from all concerned.
However, the conclusion summary for the whole story is done as a jokey radio play on stage, which is very jarring, and doesn’t at all mix with the film’s serious tone. WTF was Scorsese thinking?! In fact, he also takes the role as radio producer, and is the last of the voices speaking into the mic before it moves to the closing credits – all of which are static and of the non-crawl variety.
As an aside, while in the Trafford Centre, I realised that the sound for Taylor Swift in Dolby is INCREDIBLE! But…
…it’s a shame I had no intention of watching that, and was still sat watching the above movie… I guess there’s not much in the way of soundproofing between auditoriums, but that one is louder than Oppenheimer!!
For anyone who knows the Trafford Centre cinema, while this was a minor inconvenience compared to something else that happened during the screening (only happened a couple of times, but it’s still a pain – and no doubt heightened by the fact that after they set the doors to be open at the start of a screening, no-one goes round and closes them before it starts, so I’ve done that manually when I’ve gone in, as they’re on a release switch), screen 13 is the Dolby one, and screen 12 was showing KOTFM.
In getting to what was irritating, I’ll set the scene that when an auditorium has a front and back section of seating, rather than all in one, I prefer to sit at the back of the front section, and usually, all the loudmouths go to the back section.
In screen 12, the front section has 4 full length rows, and one with 7 seats in the middle, and 3 seats flanking both sides, with space inbetween for wheelchairs. The middle 3 of the 7 seats are regular seats, not Companion ones. So, out of the 7, fromt left to right, I was in seat 4. Bag on seat 3, sandwiches on the arm between seat 5 and 6 (put it ON the seat, and the seat auto-closes, so it’ll end up on the floor if you put it there).
As I went in, in the third row were three people, who were sat a few seats off-centre (who does that – or even at the end – when they can sit in the centre? The view would be awful!), and there was another man in the right-hand 3-seater section… although when the BBFC title card came on, he ran off, so must’ve gone into the wrong room… would help if they had a screen outside each one which stated what was show, but anyway…
30 mins in, the three in the third row look like they’re off as well… but they move to that right-hand 3-seater… well, one of them does. The other two, a couple, come over in my direction, clearly not twigging that anyone else might be sat in that row as they looked a bit surprised.
Anyhoo, they sat in seats 6 and 7, so just on the end, leaving seat 5 free inbetween me and them, but going from where they were, to where they ended up, and long after the film had started, that felt like invading my space. There was also a bit of muttering from the pair at times, but could’ve been worse. Still, I did have to shush them once. I did feel they might move after another 30 mins, and head to the back section somewhere as it wasn’t massively busy, but no, they stayed put.
Oh, and I retrieved my sandwiches once they decided to join me…
PS. What was in those sandwiches? I made tuna fish with some red onion chopped up and thrown in. Yes, I could tell when they noticed me opening the first one…
Killers of The Flower Moon is in cinemas now, then released on Apple TV+ at a date yet to be confirmed, but you can currently buy the paperback novel.
Running time: 206 minutes
Release date: October 20th 2023 (cinemas), TBA (Apple TV+)
Studio: Paramount Pictures UK
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Anamorphic Panavision), 1.33:1 (some scenes) (Spherical)
Cinema: Odeon Trafford Centre
Director: Martin Scorsese
Producers: Dan Friedkin, Daniel Lupi, Martin Scorsese, Bradley Thomas
Screenplay: Eric Roth, Martin Scorsese
Music: Robbie Robertson
Novel: David Grann
Ernest Burkhart: Leonardo DiCaprio
William Hale: Robert De Niro
Mollie Burkhart: Lily Gladstone
Tom White: Jesse Plemons
Lizzie Q: Tantoo Cardinal
Prosecutor Peter Leaward: John Lithow
W.S. Hamilton: Brendan Fraser
Anna: Cara Jade Myers
Reta: JaNae Collins
Minnie: Jillian Dion
Bill Smith: Jason Isbell
Henry Roan: William Belleau
Kelsie Morrison: Louis Cancelmi
Byron Burkhart: Scott Shepherd
Paul Red Eagle: Everett Waller
Non-Hon-Zhin-Ga / Traditional Leader: Talee Redcorn
Chief Bonnicastle: Yancey Red Corn
John Wren: Tatanka Means
Blackie Thompson: Tommy Schultz
Henry Grammer: Sturgill Simpson
John Ramsey: Ty Mitchell
Detective Burns: Gary Basaraba
Alvin Reynolds: Charlie Musselwhite
Agent John Burger: Pat Healy
Dr. James Shoun: Steve Witting
Dr. David Shoun: Steve Routman
Pitts Beaty: Gene Jones
Agent Frank Smith: Michael Abbott
Radio Show Producer: Martin Scorsese
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.