DiCaprio-Scorsese epic scores rave reviews at Cannes

AFP , Sunday 21 May 2023

The Hollywood cavalcade descended on Cannes Saturday for the premiere of Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese's Native American crime epic, "Killers of the Flower Moon" which received rave reviews.

Killers of the Flower Moon
(From L) Chief Executive Officer of Apple Tim Cook, US actor Jesse Plemons, US actress Lily Gladstone, US director Martin Scorsese, US actor Robert De Niro, Canadian actor William Belleau, Canadian actress Tantoo Cardinal and US actress Jillian Dion pose as they leave the Festival Palace after the screening of the film Killers of the Flower Moon during the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on Saturday 20 May 2023. (Photo: AFP)


The three-and-a-half-hour movie sees DiCaprio play alongside Scorsese's other long-time muse Robert De Niro, and charts a wave of murders among oil-rich Osage Indians in the 1920s and the birth of the FBI.

After hours of waiting in the rain that has drenched the French Riviera town all week, fans went wild as the trio arrived for the premiere alongside several native Americans in traditional outfits.

Co-star Jesse Plemons arrived with his wife Kirsten Dunst, while Salma Hayek, Cate Blanchett, and Tobey Maguire were also present.

Based on a nonfiction bestseller, the film sees DiCaprio play a weak-willed man who marries a wealthy Osage Indian and is drawn into the deadly schemes of his kingpin uncle (De Niro).

Words like "searing", "triumph" and "masterpiece" were bandied about by critics who managed to get their hands on a ticket.

IndieWire said DiCaprio gives "his best-ever performance", while The Guardian awarded five stars for a "remarkable epic about the bloody birth of America".

There were some dissenting notes, with The Times calling it "a damp squib" and Little White Lies saying Scorsese "guts the story of anything that might sully the high seriousness of the subject matter".


"Killers of the Flower Moon", funded by Apple, was screening out-of-competition in Cannes.

It is the first time the 80-year-old Scorsese, who won the Palme in 1976 for "Taxi Driver", has presented a film here since 1985's lesser-known "After Hours", though he served as jury president in 1998.

Elsewhere, the race for the festival's top prize Palme d'Or was heating up.

More Hollywood royalty walked the red carpet for Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore's new film "May December," which looks at the relationship between an older woman and a schoolboy, still married years after their relationship became a tabloid scandal.

An early front-runner is British director Jonathan Glazer's "The Zone of Interest", a unique and horrifying look at the private life of a Nazi officer working at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Critics were near-unanimous in their praise, Variety calling it "chilling and profound, meditative and immersive, a movie that holds human darkness up to the light and examines it as if under a microscope".

It was partly inspired by a book of the same name by British novelist Martin Amis, who died on Saturday at 73.

Also well received was "Four Daughters", a heartbreaking documentary about radicalisation within a Tunisian family that is both inventive and engaging.

That may go down well with jury president Ruben Ostlund, last year's winner for "Triangle of Sadness", who likes his arthouse films with some lighter touches.

A total of 21 films are in the main competition, which concludes on May 27, including previous winners such as Japan's Hirokazu Kore-eda, Germany's Wim Wenders and Britain's Ken Loach.

Ageing icons

The weather has been untypically wet this year, but Cannes has had no shortage of splashy moments since kicking off on Tuesday with the controversial appearance of Johnny Depp, playing French king Louis XV in "Jeanne du Barry".

The festival saw an emotional appearance from Harrison Ford, receiving an honorary Palme d'Or at the world premiere of "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny".

And at the risk of turning the event into a festival of ageing Hollywood males, there was also an honorary Palme for Michael Douglas, and an appearance from Sean Penn as a grizzled New York paramedic in "Black Flies".

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