Posted on May 22, 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon Review: A Cautionary Masterpiece on the Insidiousness of White Men

Lex Briscuso, Slash Film, May 20, 2023

Time and time again throughout history, the white man has proven he cannot be trusted. In Martin Scorsese’s twenty-sixth film “Killers of the Flower Moon,” he shows us another staggering real-life example of that very warning. The legendary director’s magnificent epic traverses several years in the 1920s to tell the story of the wealthy members of the Osage Nation who discovered a massive oil well on their Oklahoma land — and as a result found themselves victim to a deceitful murder plot designed to put every dime in the hands of entitled white men. And for all of the 206 minutes you spend with this true story, it uses its entire run reminding you that betrayal can come from all sides, and it can come from those you think you know and love best. “Killers of the Flower Moon” is a cautionary tale about the ubiquitous insidiousness of white men, laying bare the notion that they will take everything from you that isn’t nailed down no matter the cost. Even the ones that seem innocent and good.

It will come as no surprise that the anchor of “Killers of the Flower Moon” is its impeccable cast. Leonardo DiCaprio shines as the self-serving and spineless Ernest Burkhart, a white man who comes to Oklahoma to stay with his uncle, Robert De Niro’s William Hale, and make his way. He finds opportunity there with Hale, and the wheels start turning for him on how to make a life for himself — at the expense of the kind, selfless Native people around him. {snip}


There’s no denying how sharp Scorsese’s instincts are as a filmmaker, and it truly cannot be understated that, at 80 years young, he’s definitely still got it. “Killers of the Flower Moon” is a fast, fierce, and unapologetic gut punch that centers the horrific abuse suffered by the Osage nation at the hands of those who were entitled to nothing and thought themselves worthy of everything. White supremacy — and the idea that the individuals after the almighty dollar are more worthy than the ones who are rightfully owed it — tends to settle itself firmly within that spectrum, and the only way to fight it is by arming ourselves with the knowledge of how it spreads and poisons as much purity as possible. Thanks to Scorsese’s version of these harrowing and true events in history, we have another brilliant film aching to teach us something meaningful about all the desperate ways we engage with one another, for better or for worse.