starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons
screenplay by Eric Roth and Martin Scorsese, based on the book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
directed by Martin Scorsese
by Walter Chaw I think Martin Scorsese is perhaps too principled a filmmaker to indulge in the dark poetry of Killers of the Flower Moon; too bound by limitations he's aware of and wary of violating, too respectful of the horror of the history to mark it with the crackle of verve and vitality. A sober topic deserves a sober treatment, no question, yet Scorsese at his best is doing lines off the hood of a vintage Impala, not running lines with actors and advisors, all with competing interests and hardwired biases, to find the most cogent, most reasonable way to approach a tripwire. He's so careful not to set off the powderkeg that is the Osage Murders of 1921-1926 that he doesn't set off any sparks at all. While I don't think Scorsese is capable of making a bad movie, with things like Hugo and even The Irishman, he's shown he can make movies that are enervated in the fatal way of a conversation you have with a beloved elder you're lucky to engage with but dread, too, for the repetitiveness and dusty formality. I'm not saying Scorsese was the wrong person to adapt white-guy journalist David Grann's NYT-feted true-crime book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, a celebration of an organization that has done grievous harm to these very people it swooped in belatedly to protect this one time. On the contrary, he's told what is probably the most palatable version of that story--but it's a story I don't want to hear. I guess I'm saying I have a hard time investing much in devalued institutions and their saviours.