Cannes Film Festival 2023: Martin Scorsese disappoints expectations with “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Opinions were divided at the end of the screening of Killers of the Flower Moon, the new film by Martin Scorsese. After his magnificent Palme d’or in 1976 for Taxi Driverand his last appearance at Cannes in 1986 with After Hourshis film about the murder of the Osage Indians in the 1920s divided audiences between fans and scathing critics.

In 1920, the discovery of oil on the Osage Indian reservation (Oklahoma) in the United States brought them a colossal fortune. Like many other white people, William Hale (Robert De Niro) plots to extract this monumental windfall from their owners. He manipulates his nephew Ernest Bunhhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) into marrying a local, Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladston), to achieve his ends. The maneuvers will go as far as the murder of several Indians, leading to the intervention of the federal authorities.

Based on the book by American journalist David Grann The American Note (Pocket), Killers of the Flower Moon, which tells this true and little-known story, the film does not quite correspond to what one could expect from Martin Scorsese. Critics almost unanimously aim at the excessive length of the 3h30 of the film, but they are more complacent on its other facets.

Unbalanced assembly

Whether Killers of the Flower Moon sets up its plot well against a backdrop of sumptuous reconstructions of the 1920s, the film quickly gets bogged down in over-dialogued scenes to the detriment of the action. DiCaprio plays a fool there under the influence of a manipulative De Niro without nuances. A chatter which Martin Scorsese is not accustomed to. In addition, the unbalanced construction of the story is reminiscent of a series reassembled in a hurry for a version for the big screen. It discredits the hard work done by the FBI to arrest white people who were only continuing the Amerindian genocide completed in 1920, and whose gigantic oil windfall was the icing on the cake.

However, the interpreter of Molly, Lily Gladston, makes a remarkable performance as an Indian victim methodically poisoned, but she cannot run for the interpretation prize, the film being out of competition. Martin Scorsese’s appearance at the end of the film is touching in a well-orchestrated scene, but it does not redeem the shortcomings of a Killers of the Flower Moon not very glorious for the return of the master on the Croisette.

The poster of "Killers of the Flower Moon" by Martin Scorsese (2023).  (PARAMOUNT PICTURES FRANCE)

The sheet

Gender : Thriller / Drama
Director: Martin Scorsese
Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladston, Jesse Piemons
Country : UNITED STATES
Duration : 3h26
Exit : October 18, 2023
Distributer : Paramount Pictures France

Summary: In the early 20th century, oil brought fortune to the Osage people who, overnight, became one of the wealthiest in the world. The wealth of these Native Americans immediately attracts the lust of disreputable white people who schem, embezzle and steal as much Osage money as possible before resorting to murder…

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