Cannes #76 - “Killers of the Flower Moon” Review
Osage County, Oklahoma, the 1920s. Local Native Americans, now millionaires due to black gold findings on their territory, are in danger. But as Mollie (Lily Gladstone), one of the last standing landowners, says, “Coyote wants money”. One by one, the Native Americans keep dying under mysterious circumstances, witnessed by greedy, silent eyes who do nothing to stop this tailored, family genocide. A strange hereditary disease, perhaps? A theory that becomes quite questionable after Natives start to be dismissed directly by bullets. Chief beneficiary of the Natives’ annihilation is cattle owner and local head honcho William Hale, played by a monumental Robert De Niro, who sets up his naïve niece Ernest (DiCaprio) to marry Mollie in order to legally expropriate and inherit her wealth after her plotted demise.
The familiar, archetypal Scorsesian structure of a rise to power, territorial control through merciless violence, and eventual collapse is once again carefully in place. This time, aided by the presence of both of Scorsese’s favourite actors, joining forces in a Scorsese film for first time.
Killers of The Flower Moon unveils one of the often unspoken dark pages from the corrupted birth of the United States. It is a genre-bending effort, veering from a gangster flick to a western. And as the narrative progresses, and the FBI investigation to put an end to Hale’s murderous streak kicks in, the film even morphs into a courtroom picture. But eventually, what we are truly watching is a love story. And perhaps, one of the most touching and accomplished in Martin Scorsese’s filmography.
The sentiment that emerges is one of compassion and guilt for the dark relationship between dimwitted Ernest withand the endangered Mollie, but also one of the love Scorsese has invested to pull off one of his most grandiose, epic productions.
Presented in Cannes out of competition, it marked the cinema icon’s first return to the croisette since 1986’s After Hours. It was the most awaited event of the kermesse, and on a personal note, I was personally dying to watch it. Willing to get arrested/shot for it, and after several improbable attempts to sneak into the (only) screening, I finally found myself inside as the opening credits were rolling. Understandably, of the 2309 seats in the Lumiere Theatre, none were available. And thus, shivers down my spine, I found myself standing and kneeling at the top of the auditorium for the whole 3 hours and 26 minutes of the film’s running time. It was cathartic, unforgettable, and somehow romantic. And let me tell you, it was worth it.