Dir: Martin Scorsese | Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemmons, John Lithgow | US Drama 200’
Martin Scorsese’s 26th film is a love story, a crime thriller and an epic of cultural significance. Because it’s essentially about immigrants – the white man taking over the natives in their own country evoked by film’s lyrical title – Killers of the Flower Moon is also bound to be universal and newsworthy in its appeal. But Scorsese also makes his first Western smoulderingly beautiful with each frame a glowing masterpiece capturing the ravishing splendour of the Oklahoma countryside during the prohibition years of the 1920s when most of the western world was caught up in the first world war.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro are masterful as the two villains of the piece with Jesse Plemmons offering integrity as the calm and straightforward man of the Law. DiCaprio acts his socks off but newcomer Lily Gladstone steals the show as the Native American woman he falls for and marries, mostly for love but also because his uncle (De Niro) is keen to ensure her fortune passes into the family, a common practice that spread through the region like wildfire, attracting all kinds of negative elements to this peaceful community and giving the film its spiritual element so loved by Scorsese: the serpent in the Garden of Eden
Three and a half hours steal by engrossingly as Scorsese and his co-writer Roth craft a treacherous tale of subplots and intrigue fleshing out each character to build a rich cinematic tapestry of the times but, in contrast to his New York fare, the violence here is nuanced and restrained but the film really needs to be seen on the big screen. If this true epic doesn’t win an Oscar I’ll eat my Stetson. MT
IN CINEMAS FROM 20 October 2023