Review: Martin Scorsese’s Brilliant Killers of the Flower Moon Opens to Thunderous Ovation in Cannes (See Director’s Speech to Adoring, Captivated Audience)
The Cannes audience is going wild cheering for Martin Scorcese and the cast of Killers of the Flower Moon. Brilliant film. May be the longest standing ovation ever. The Applause sounds like hard rain on a rooftop.
Oscars for everyone.
Scorsese turned the story of the murders of the Osage Indians in Oklahoma into a mob allegory and a cinema classic at the same time. It’s a thrillingly intimate and powerful film that is the equal of any of the directors’ other hits and his best film since “Wolf of Wall Street.” Or maybe ever. Scorsese is a mind blowing director aided by editor Thelma Schoonmaker, another genius.
Leonardo Di Caprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone lead a superb cast who are always spot on and insanely good as they tell this story, which really happened, and is adjacent to the tragic killings of Blacks in Tulsa that led to the Juneteenth memorials.
The movie is based on the best seller by David Grann who uncovered this heinous crime history had not told. William K. Hale was a monster from Fairfax, Oklahoma in the 1920s. Native Americans were making millions– yes millions — when oil was discovered on Osage property. Scorsese and screenwriter Eric Roth lay this very carefully. Hale, a sort of corn-pone Don Corleone, realizes how much money is coming in and he wants it. He and his thugs start killing off members of the Osage to get the money. His nephew, Ernest Burkhart, is brought in to woo a local woman (Lily Gladstone), kill off her family until she inherits from all of them, and then kill her.
As depicted here, Burkhart is even more criminally insane than Hale. He’s dosing his wife Mollie with insulin and other drugs until she is almost completely dead. In the meantime, he’s ordering hits on every Osage around him, even having the killers and witnesses murdered.
Mollie realizes a little of what’s going on and travels to Washington, speaks to President Calvin Coolidge. Eventually the FBI shows up in the person of Jesse Plemons — splendid performance — who begins the task of bringing these people to justice. But by then Burkhart has blown up people’s houses and effected executions that would make the New York mob cower with fear.
All the main actors are working at the top of their respective games. Di Caprio is the lead — I don’t know advance word had him as supporting, he ‘s the lead and this could be his second Oscar. He is chilling. De Niro is wonderful, it’s so great to see his gears turning. Decades of working with Scorsese have turned these two into a stunning partnership. Gladstone, who is Native American, is so serenely beautiful and empathetic. I can’t wait for people to see her.
Scorsese ends the movie in such a brilliant way– instead of one of those awful tags at the end of movies that just say what happened to everyone, he invents a radio drama from the 20s in which actors act out the fates of the characters. It’s a little like Robert Altman staging the “Prairie Home Companion.” Finally in movies, something so fresh and creative, you want to start clapping then. But that’s not the end. That’s an Indian drum circle that reminded me of the ending of “Schindler’s List” in a way. There are tears.
Not kidding– the reaction in the Palais was stunning. Scorsese spoke afterward. Check below in a few minutes. And there are Osage reps here and they are really beside themselves. In the audience: loads of famous folks, members of the juries, Cate Blanchett, plus his friends like Olivia Harrison and famed photographer Brigitte Lacombe, etc.