Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon ★★★★★

Simply monumental.

I guess runtime is inevitably going to dominate the discussion around movies like this, so here's my take: the sheer length, along the structural decision to reveal the crimes outright instead of indulging in procedural thriller, is what makes it work.

It is so crucial that the film has enough time to spend with various side characters around the town, allowing it to reframe the events as a communal failure of indifference and complicity instead of just an unfathomable act of evil committed by specific bad actors. And it is so important that the FBI only shows up after an excruciatingly long process of the Osage making fruitless appeals for justice and does so little so late, uncovering conspiracies inelegantly hidden in plain sight and shown to the viewer hours ago. Sure, Killers is directed (and especially edited!) with a preternaturally steady hand, the pacing striking a perfect balance between moving forwards and lingering on the grim inevitability of the central tragedy. But it's also a long movie, and that is fine – the aesthetics are so clearly in service of the narrative.

Anyway, besides that, the restrained central performances are all very good (Gladstone is a scene-stealer, and De Niro plays the (non-)tension between his character's public and private personas stellarly). Honestly, I like how restrained it is in general – the low-key score is insanely effective, the acts of violence are only made more chilling by their distanced, startling depiction, and every shot is handsomely crafted without being so beautiful that it would detract from the dark tone. It really feels like a movie so confident in and so committed to its story that it doesn't need constant visual flourishes to keep the audience's attention. Just so very good.

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