Killers of the Flower Moon review: Scorsese’s handsome western ‘too slow’

Other alternative protagonists keep popping up. The film is based on David Grann’s book, subtitled “The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” but the main agent responsible for cracking the case, played by Jesse Plemons, is not shown for two hours. By the way, the lawyers for the ensuing court case, played by John Lithgow and Brendan Fraser, don’t show up for another half hour after that. Or what about Mollie, who trusts Ernest but is a proud, cool-headed, insightful woman determined to see justice done? Maybe the movie would have served more purpose if it had focused on him? There are fascinating revelations about how infantilized the Osage people are and how they run their businesses, but these should have taken up more of the three-and-a-half-hour running time.

The last half hour is especially mixed because, despite some touching, sober scenes, it becomes a Coen Brothers farce about how stupid criminals can be. This is the most enjoyable part of the film, but also the most questionable. If Scorsese wanted to make a darkly comic romp about a patronizing thug and his numbskull nephew, perhaps he shouldn’t have used a real massacre of Native Americans as the subject.

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Killers of the Flower Moon is in general release from October 20.

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