A breathtaking piece of cinema – that won’t quite appeal to everyone.
Everything from top to bottom in Martin Scorsese’s based-on-true-events epic western crime drama oozes quality from every pore.
Whether it’s the stellar performances of the tri-factor of sensational lead stars – Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone – to the stunning cinematography, catchy musical score, and of course, Scorsese’s all-round filmmaking, the craftmanship of this film is never, ever, in doubt.
But despite all that, did it really need to be nearly three and a half hours long? It really didn’t.
Which doesn’t really make it an issue for die-hard fans of Scorsese’s work – or maybe film enthusiasts in general – but makes it slightly unnecessarily inaccessible to those not wanting to have a ‘numb backside’ after it’s excessive duration.
When oil gushes from the ground on their sacred land, the native Osage tribe literally becomes mega-wealthy overnight in 1920s-set Oklahoma. But the laws require ‘white guardians’ to manage the money, which leaves Robert De Niro’s rancher William ‘King’ Hale, posing as a friendly benefactor to the Osage people – which includes Lily Gladstone’s one of four sisters, Mollie.
So, when Hale’s nephew Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns from World War I duties, he ends up following the lead of several men – who marry Osage women due to their families owning significant swathes of oil estate – by ‘tying the knot’ with Mollie, after a brief romance.
But things slowly take an ugly turn by the devious Hale, when members of the Osage start to systematically end up deceased, including Mollie’s sisters. The reluctant – but money-loving – Ernest sadly gets drawn into the situation by his uncle’s deceptively-controlling nature, as it’s explained how much he could gain from certain strategic deaths in the community.
It all then comes to a head when the diabetes-suffering Mollie heads to Washington DC demanding answers to all the murders, which drags Jesse Plemons’ Bureau of Investigation (which later became the FBI) agent Tom White and his team to finally explore the mysterious unexplained deaths.
Which for the most part, despite its slow, methodical pacing, churns out an intriguing true story with the aforementioned stunning cinematic values.
But a bit like the Oscar-winning The Power of the Dog from a couple of years back – which boasted a similarly-impressive film experience – it may prove to be a bit of a ‘slog’ to some.
That said, there’s no doubt Flower Moon ‘kills it’ in all other departments – bar the at least half hour too long run-time – and still deserves immense praise all round for Scorsese, DiCaprio, De Niro, Gladstone and co.
And for that they should all take a bow.
ESP Rating: 4/5
SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW
CAST: LEONARDO DICAPRIO, LILY GLADSTONE, ROBERT DE NIRO, JESSE PLEMONS, CARA JADE MYERS, SCOTT SHEPHERD, JASON ISBELL, TANTOO CARDINAL, JOHN LITHGOW & BRENDAN FRASER
RUNNING TIME: 3 HR 26 MINS
DIRECTOR: MARTIN SCORSESE
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