Based on true events, Killers of the Flower Moon tells a story that invokes the foundational genocide upon which the USA was built, but has its own peculiarities. The Osage Nation, a Native American tribe and unusually the owners of their reservation in Oklahoma, became extraordinarily wealthy in the early 20th century upon finding their land gushing oil – but in pursuit of their riches, the white population in the region devised a plan to rob them of their individual land rights, which were only allowed to be inherited. In telling this story, Killers of the Flower Moon justifies its three and a half hours of runtime – though there’s no reason not to include an intermission! – and Leonardo DiCaprio, in particular, has never been better.
We discuss the specific events depicted and the wider history to which they relate and that they evoke in microcosm; the complexities in DiCaprio’s character, who participates knowingly in hideous crimes but truly loves his wife, whose community and family he’s devastating, all the while not quite having the mental acuity to understand the full extent of what he’s involved in; the quality and qualities of the performances and characterisations; the visual design, effects of lighting, and evocation of the feeling of so many mid-20th century Westerns through subtle and specific elements of the cinematography; and the idiosyncratic ending and what it has to say to its audience.