Killers of the Flower Moon

The sociopathy of American history

When the Osage Native Americans discovered oil on the barren land on which they had been forced to live, there was no legal way for the greedy white man to rob them of their wealth. But when they started to be mysteriously murdered off and the local law was no use, the tribe called in the fledgling FBI to find the culprits. What they found is almost too terrible to be true.

August and immersive as Martin Scorsese’s oeuvre is, this latest seems like everything he has done so far has been a warm-up. Basically it’s a corrosive analysis of America’s worst colonial sins, told through the story of one twisted, tragic marriage.

Robert De Niro has received some flack for some of the silly roles he has taken on since his heyday, but he proves here that he still has what it takes. Rarely have I seen a more convincing two-faced villain. Not to be outdone, Leonardo DiCaprio puts in an unbelievable performance in a highly complex role. It’s a career best for Leo, and that’s saying something. But the heart and soul of the movie belongs to newcomer Lili Gladstone and her knowing, Mona Lisa smile. Woman’s a rock.

The movie touches on the Tulsa race riots, the Masons and the KKK of the last century. Scorsese’s genius lies in how he manages to intriguingly link such things to the bitter political divisions and imbedded racism of today. To wit: some school officials in western states are trying to suppress the source story, for potentially upsetting some students. Wouldn’t want the little dears to suffer.

The film is almost three and a half hours long, and not a second is wasted. Lets’ do the adjectives: captivating, emotional, chilling, sweeping, vast, vital, heartbreaking and unforgettable. The genius closing coda, featuring the most important of a dozen cameos in the film, is sure to rile a few people. And that’s a good thing.

End note: Last July I had Oppenheimer pegged for Best Picture Oscar this year. Now I’m not so sure. (206 min)

Check it now in theaters here.