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Killers of the Flower Moon: A Review

By Alexis Peñalver

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Killers of the Flower Moon.” (Melinda Sue Gordon/Apple TV+/TNS)

Martin Scorsese's latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, has garnered massive support from critics and earned a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer. Aside from critics, fans have also demonstrated their appreciation for this movie, giving it an audience score of 85%. Based on David Grann's 2017 non-fiction book, Killers of the Flower Moon, this film tells of the "Reign of Terror" on the Osage Nation. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of Ernest Burkhart, an American who settles on Osage land. Ernest begins to involve himself with his uncle's crime ring. After marrying an Osage woman, Ernest begins to assist in and even commit murders in a scheme to inherit money from his Osage wife.

What this film got right

As many critics have previously said, Scorsese did not disappoint in the realms of cinematics, character depth, and cast.

Rodrigo Prieto was the cinematographer, and he did an excellent job of displaying the majesty of the Osage land. Prieto's establishing shots not only keep the audience spatially oriented, but they do so in a consistent aesthetic. Furthermore, Prieto provides close-ups that display the more intricate and personal aspects of the plot.

Ernest Burkart's character depth is one of this film's greatest features. Ernest embodies a duality between love and greed. Internally, his love for his wife battles against his love of money and fear of his uncle, William King Hale (Robert DeNiro). This is demonstrated as early as the beginning of Ernest and Mollie's (Ernest's wife) relationship. When Ernest tells Hale about Mollie for the first time, Hale immediately pressures him into marrying her because of her family's wealth. As their relationship progressed, Hale's true intentions would continue to be revealed. Now as Mollie's husband, Ernest had claim to her family's wealth (in the event of Mollie's death). Hale began murdering all those who stood ahead of Ernest in the order of inheritance. Eventually, Ernest himself began to participate, creating the defining trope of this movie. Ernest involved himself in multiple murders, including some of Mollie's family members. He did not, however, do this with a clear conscience. Ernest mourned, worried, and participated with hesitancy. In the end though, his greed and fear of his uncle defeated the love he held for his wife.


The two most notable shortcomings of this film are its length and lack of suspense.

Clocking in at three hours and 26 minutes, many fans found it to be overly drawn out. Obviously, this is a subjective criticism and not too much more can be said. Whereas some found this film to be drawn out, others found the duration to be appropriate for a film that tells a story with this much depth.

Lastly, there are scarce moments where audience members of this film are left in suspense. For the majority of the three hours and 26 minutes of run time, watchers hold an almost omniscient perspective. Although this may not be a necessary feature in this sort of film, it is something to note.

Although some audience members take issue with its duration and lack of suspense, the majority of movie-goers seem to hold Killers of the Flower Moon in high regard. With a high-caliber cast, striking cinematography, and profound character complexion, it's not difficult to understand where they are coming from.

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1 Comment

Keith Crossman
Keith Crossman
Nov 16, 2023

Great movie and insightful review. Well done Alexis.

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