Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon hailed as ‘masterpiece’ by critics after Cannes premiere

·2-min read

Martin Scorsese’s latest film Killers of the Flower Moon has become one of the most feted films at Cannes, with early reviews hailing it as a “triumph”.

The western true-crime thriller casts Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone in Scorsese’s retelling of the Osage murders of the 1920s.

Co-written by Eric Roth, the movie premiered at Cannes Film Festival on Saturday (20 May) night to the biggest standing ovation of the festival so far, at nine minutes.

In a five-star review for The Independent, critic Clarisse Loughrey observed how Killers of the Flower Moon carries Scorsese’s “tradition fixations: the rotted core of man’s heart; how power breeds the impulse for destruction; the myths of cowboys and outlaws and the dirty truth to them”.

She also singled out Gladstone’s performance as Mollie Kyle, who marries DiCaprio’s character Ernest Burkhart, as “one of the most extraordinary... by a woman in any of Scorsese’s movies.”

“She is serene but not saintly; a figure of tragedy with fire in her belly,” Loughrey writes. “The first time we dive into Mollie’s perspective, it’s with a force that could suck the breath out of your body.”

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw also gave the film five stars, writing how Scorsese and Roth have crafted “an epic of creeping, existential horror about the birth of the American century, a macabre tale of quasi-genocidal serial killings which mimic the larger erasure of Native Americans from the US”.

Writing for The Telegraph, Robbie Collin said that Scorsese had “outdone himself” with Killers, noting that DiCaprio and De Niro are on “terrific form”.

Some critics were less keen on the length of the film. Variety called the project “compelling” but criticised its running time of three-and-a-half hours.

The Sunday Times was also unimpressed, with critic Kevin Maher calling it a “damp squib” in his two-star review. “The film itself, alas, is quite the dirge,” he wrote.

He later commented: “Worst of all, for a film that is ostensibly about reclaiming the Osage story, the only major Osage character, Mollie, is a passive cipher who’s essentially sedated (against her will) throughout... she stares, she sweats, she groans, she faints.”

Read The Independent’s review here.

Killers of the Flower Moon is being released on 6 October, before streaming globally on Apple TV+.