Martin Scorsese‘s Killers of the Flower Moon received a nine-minute standing ovation at Cannes on Saturday (20 May), with critics hailing his sweeping American epic about the Osage murders in 1920s Oklahoma as a “masterpiece”.
The US director’s latest work, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro and stretches to a running time of three and a half hours, is an adaptation of David Grann's nonfiction bestseller, and cost streaming service Apple $200m (£160m) to make.
It was undoubtedly the most anticipated movie to premiere at Cannes this year, and has, according to the majority of early reviews, met the high expectations.
Following the screening, Scorsese, 80, and his cast were met with a standing ovation and loud cheers from attendees, among whom were stars including Cate Blanchett, Salma Hayek, Isabelle Huppert, and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“We shot this a couple of years ago in Oklahoma. It’s taken its time to come around but Apple did so great by us,” Scorsese said, addressing the crowd after the screening. “There was lots of grass. I’m a New Yorker.”
Killers of the Flower Moon follows Grann’s character Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio, in his seventh collaboration with Scorsese), a WWI veteran who falls for Mollie Brown (Gladstone), the member of a wealthy Osage family.
Since finding oil reserves on their land, the Osage were then the richest people per capita in the country. But that wealth is closely controlled by appointed white guardians. A series of murders prompts increased panic among the Osage, who are preyed on by a host of greed-driven killers.
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.”
Killers of the Flower Moon is being released on 6 October, before streaming globally on Apple TV+.
Additional reporting by Associated Press