‘Killers of the Flower Moon': First Reactions Applaud Scorsese Though ‘Mythic Sweep of the Book’ Missing

The biggest film of the Cannes Film Festival, especially for folks with little interest in the commercial side of the movie industry, was arguably Martin Scorsese’s “Flowers of the Killer Moon.” The long-awaited and much-discussed adaptation of David Grann’s “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” features both current Scorsese mainstay Leonardo DiCaprio and former Scorsese muse Robert De Niro, alongside Jesse Plemons and breakout star Lily Gladstone.

The picture, a 3.5-hour epic detailing a crime spree that was meant to undercut prosperous Native Americans who had benefited from oil deposits underneath their land, comes courtesy of Apple but will first get a conventional global theatrical release courtesy of Paramount.

The Eric Roth-penned adaptation will open in limited release on Oct. 6, where it could shatter box office records for per-theater averages, prior to its Oct. 20 wide release.

As always, the flurry of first reactions out of a major red carpet or festival screening should be taken with a grain of salt. Compare, just this week, the immediate reactions to “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Dial of Destiny” with the mixed-negative reviews that dropped hours later.

However, judging by the rave review courtesy of TheWrap’s chief film critic, Tomris Laffly — she calls it “vast and vital in its scale and emotional scope, a Western-thriller that is every bit a Scorsese crime picture as one can dare to imagine”.” — there may not be much daylight between the initial tweets and the more thought-out reactions.

The feature was lauded as another standout for Scorsese while not possibly being his best ever and the prodigious runtime seemingly was not a problem. Freelance writer Martyn Conterio said, “It’s top tier Marty.”

However, the first criticism of Scorsese — a white man — directing a tale about Indigenous peoples is apparently hard to ignore, according to Collider features editor Therese Lacson. “I question if Scorsese is the right person to tell this story. With a third act stumble, it’s far from perfect, but still a strong showing.” Regardless, praise is going out to actress Lily Gladsone who Discussing Film senior film critic Yasmine Kandil calls “the soul of the film.” IndieWire’s David Ehrlich also gave praise to Leonardo DiCaprio, calling his turn in the feature as “the best performance of his life.”

But while the praise for the film is positive overall, there are critiques and an overall muted response. In that same Tweet, Ehrlich said Scorsese film “misses the mythic sweep of [Grann’s] book.” FirstShowing editor Alex Billington called the film “utterly dark and depressing” and that it’s “another Scorsese mobster movie.” Toronto Star movie critic Peter Howell said, “Scorsese tests our patience but delivers the goods.”

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