Beginning of the end in 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

There’s a pivotal scene in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” where William Hale’s (Robert De Niro) power over the Osage community starts to crack. He catches underling Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio) profiting off an unapproved car insurance scam and finds out that Ernest's wife Mollie (Lily Gladstone) has hired a private investigator, which brings in "unwanted eyes” to his own criminality. To restore order, Hale decide Ernest must be reprimanded, first by whacking him with a paddle and then lecturing him to take back control of his home. “Hale is realizing the true foil to his plan is this powerful woman,” says cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto. “Hale feels like Mollie is getting the upper hand on Ernest," and he is trying to make sure he is becoming the voice of power.” The moody moment in a Masonic lodge is painted with dark-blue walls reminiscent of the night sky and soft lighting from above as if it were a spotlight on the characters. Wide shots make the characters feel “small in frame” and “isolated,” while low angles contextualize Hale’s presence and power from Ernest’s perspective. It marks the beginning of the end for Hale and defines where a resilient woman begins to blossom.

Get the Envelope newsletter, sent three times a week during awards season, for exclusive reporting, insights and commentary.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.