CINEMASCOPE ICON : Despite its staggering beauty and an intriguing premise, Martin Scorsese's  Killers of the Flower Moon is overly long.

Unapologetic. Brilliant. An epic of epic standards. These are the praises I so desperately wanted to litter in this review of Killers of the Flower Moon, co-writer/director Martin Scorsese's excessively long, indulgent adaptation of non-fiction book of the same name penned by David Grann that I - and, I assume, a good number of the people watching the film - haven't read.

Books that inspire movies are a bonus; the words on the paper give context to characters and, at times, weight to their plight.

Given their own set of narrative requirements, however, films have it tough, especially when the source material carries acclaim.

The matter is compounded when an acclaimed filmmaker, with their own particular bent, takes on an acclaimed piece of literature. Looking at Scorsese's recent resume, this becomes a bit of a problem.

His last personal project before The Irishman was the long gestating, exasperating adaptation of the novel Silence - a film where a novelist's story takes a backseat to filmmaker's storytelling.

When Killers of the Flower Moon opens, one can immediately see the brilliance of the latter at play : the frames from Rodrigo Prieto and the production design from Jack Fisk take you back to the era when films looked like film.

Hardly minutes into the movie, while the grounds of the story are being set up in a black-and-white montage, a bunch of native American-Indians from the Osage tribe strike oil.

Suddenly their movement snaps into slow motion, and then with jarring kineticism, the camera angles begin cutting through linear time, skipping frames and the audience's heartbeat.

Scorsese's - and the longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker and music director Robbie Robertson's -unmistakable fingerprints are everywhere in this scene [this is Robertson's last film].

They spice up the experience before Scorese and Eric Roth's screenplay kills the enthusiasm with a gradually tightening brutal chokehold.

It is a parallel one doesn't want to make. The film, set in the 1920s, is about white men slowly killing off Osage tribal members who have retained the rights of oil after it was discovered in their land.

Like the snail pace of the film, the killings are strategic, systematic and slow; white men often romance, marry and have children with Osage women, only to kill them in thinly veiled accidents.

This, historically, is also the beginning of the FBI. The end of the story, however, is of little interest to Scorsese.

With a runtime of nearly three-and-a half hours, Scorsese's film, despite its staggering beauty and an intriguing premise, is a brutal murder of one's time. 

The film could have been cut short by at least an hour, since the characters, led by the director's favorites Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, hardly bring engaging dramatic reveals and twists to the story.

DiCaprio who takes up a healthy chunk of the screen time, is a fine actor despite his limited acting prowess. He played a World War 1 returnee who is forced by his devious rancher uncle [DeNiro] to cajole and marry an Osage woman Molly Kyle [Lily Gladstone].

Despite DiCaprio's many scenes with DeNiro, it is Gladstone, with her knowing looks and radiant, glowing beauty, who shines through in this overlong film.

Scorsese's film, despite the hard-to-dismiss shortfalls, will be an Oscar contender. Gladstone, in particular, is a shoe-in for. Best Actress nominations, despite having very little to do in the screenplay.

Killer of the Flower Moon is Scorese at his most indulgent. This is not the first time he's done it, nor will it be the last I gather.

The World Students Society thanks review author Mohammad Kamran Jawaid.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!