‘Reservation Dogs’ Star Devery Jacobs Chides ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ for Writing Osage Characters as ‘Helpless Victims Without Agency’

The actress says that while the Indigenous actors “were the only redeeming factors of this film,” sitting through Martin Scorsese’s latest “was f–king hellfire.”

Devery Jacobs, "Killers of the Flower Moon" (Photo credit: Getty Images, Paramount Pictures)
Devery Jacobs, "Killers of the Flower Moon" (Credit: Getty Images/Paramount Pictures)

“Reservation Dogs” actress Devery Jacobs called out Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” on Monday, writing to X that the acclaimed film “painfully” underwrote its Indigenous characters as “helpless victims without agency” and in some ways helped normalize the brutalization of the Native American community.

She also expressed that she’d rather see a film made about Indigenous people’s history by a person who is of and from that racial and ethnic background.

“This film was painful, grueling, unrelenting and unnecessarily graphic,” Jacobs said. In a series of 15 tweets, the actress, best known for starring as Elora Danan Postoak on FX’s comedy “Reservation Dogs,” which is similarly centered on the Indigenous experience in the U.S., expressed the issues she had with “Killers,” which hit theaters Friday.

“Being Native, watching this movie was f–king hellfire,” Jacobs began. “Imagine the worst atrocities committed against your ancestors, then having to sit through a movie explicitly filled with them, with the only respite being 30-minute long scenes of murderous white guys talking about/planning the killings.”

Before continuing to critique the film, she pointed out that the Indigenous actors were the “only redeeming factors.”

“It must be noted that Lily Gladstone is a an absolute legend and carried Mollie with tremendous grace,” Jacobs said, adding that the actress is worthy of an Academy Award for the performance.

However, Jacobs said that the material they had to work with gave them characters lacking in development when compared to the white men onscreen, like Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

“If you look proportionally, each of the Osage characters felt painfully underwritten, while the white men were given way more courtesy and depth,” Jacobs said.

She also touched on the direction on the movie, highlighting how extreme the violence against Native Americans was and how that same violence is a real-life issue.

“Now, I can understand that Martin Scorsese’s technical direction is compelling and seeing $200 million on screen is a sight to behold,” Jacobs said. “I get the goal of this violence is to add brutal shock value that forces people to understand the real horrors that happened to this community, but… I don’t feel that these very real people were shown honor or dignity in the horrific portrayal of their deaths. Contrarily, I believe that by showing more murdered Native women on screen, it normalizes the violence committed against us and further dehumanizes our people.”

Before she ended her post, she explained that the Native American community, their culture and overall history is more than just the trauma and pain they’ve endured, and added that there needs to be more room for Indigenous creatives to tell their own stories in order to combat films like “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

“I would prefer to see a $200 million movie from an Osage filmmaker telling this history, any day of the week,” Jacobs said. “And I’m sorry, but Scorsese choosing to end on a shot of Ilonshka dances and drumming? It doesn’t absolve the film from painting Native folks as helpless victims without agency.”

By the end of it, she condemned the efforts that have been made in Hollywood to depict Native stories, and took shots at white Oklahomans who have benefitted from the actual Osage murders.

“All in all, after 100 years of the way Indigenous communities have been portrayed in film, is this really the representation we needed?” Jacobs questioned. “And a massive f–k you to the real life, white Oklahomans, who still carry and benefit from these blood-stained headrights.”

Adapted from David Grann’s nonfiction book, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” Scorsese’s feature centers on the murders of members of the Osage Native American tribe after oil was found on their land. The killings were carried out by a group of white men — Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio), John Ramsey (Ty Mitchell) and others, with William Hale (De Niro) as their leader.

The film was originally set to focus on Tom White, an FBI agent who was sent from Washington, D.C., to investigate the murders. The film was penned by Scorsese and Eric Roth, with Scorsese serving as director.

Comments

4 responses to “‘Reservation Dogs’ Star Devery Jacobs Chides ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ for Writing Osage Characters as ‘Helpless Victims Without Agency’”

  1. Patricia Begay Avatar
    Patricia Begay

    As a Native woman. I disagree. The film portrayed the Osage as the victims they were per this topic of their history. DeCaprio and DeNiro are amazing actors and played the scheming white men very effectively.

  2. @thebeauseph Avatar
    @thebeauseph

    All respect to Ms. Jacobs and her opinion, which she is absolutely entitled to, but I disagree. 
    Had Scorsese tried to tell the story from the POV of the Osage he would have gotten it wrong and would have been rightfully criticized, but he didn’t.  Also, I’d point back to the source material and the title.  It is called Killers of the Flower Moon.  It is a movie about the evil done.  It is not about the Osage, but about the people that committed such atrocities against them.  It’s a film about a bunch of inept and underwhelming white men that were able to get away with brutal and awful crimes because the government did not care.  The film is an indictment of the apathy and cruelty committed by the men and society.  
    If Ms. Jacobs saw it another way, she can speak her piece about it, but I think her actual frustration is that Indigenous filmmakers can’t get $200,000 to make a film about their experience and that is absolutely a fair point to be made.  Thats about the industry and not about what Scorsese and his terrific team created.  Furthermore her derision of the film is actually taking away from the very valid argument that the world needs more Indigenous stories told by Indigenous filmmakers.  Sadly, I think her point will be ignored because the click bait will come from her attacks on what Scorsese put on the screen.  I’m sorry she didn’t experience the film that I saw.   And I’m sorry her frustration for the system that gets most movies made caused her to miss what, I believe, is outstanding about Scorsese’s film.   It improves upon the book and has had me thinking and feeling and questioning for days, which I’m sure will continue for much longer. 

  3. Betty Shults Avatar
    Betty Shults

    Nice to read comments from these different points of view. 

  4. Jackson Harris Avatar
    Jackson Harris

    Firstly, I am a 61 year old Native woman, I and a group saw the movie together. We, all have a different view, of the film. It was sad, it was brutal, it was emotional. We, were pissed off and I was a bit dazed, I’m glad I was with my Twin, my Son and my husband. We, all have stories, we need to tell them, all of them.
    My heart will heal, again, I will move on, like Mollie.
    Peace.

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