He only now realizes what cinema can do, but it is too late. Martin Scorsese (80) made gloomy noises in the run-up to the premiere of his film Killers of the Flower Moon, Saturday at Cannes Film Festival. The movie is in a “great American movie.” Duration: 206 minutes, cost: more than 200 million dollars and starring Robert de Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Their duel is entertaining with De Niro as rancher, self-proclaimed “Indian friend” and ruthless sneak Bill Haley; and DiCaprio as his wagging doormat Ernest Burkhart. The setting is Osage County, Oklahoma, a reservation where oil is found in the early 20th century that makes Native Americans the wealthiest individuals in the US. In their boomtown of Fairfax, oil men and fortune seekers arrive with dollar signs in their eyes.
Poison and bullets
Burkhart falls for Osage County resident Mollie (Lily Gladstone)—who steals many scenes with her quiet dignity—or for her legacy (oil royalties worth millions). It’s a heartbreaking story: it gradually turns out that a sneaky extermination project is underway to plunder the Osage area, using poison, bullets and dynamite. Whatever else they struggle in Oklahoma will be: rich or poor, they’re still Native Americans.
Until the FBI arrives under young J. Edgar Hoover – and establishes the name of his fledgling agency. The time seems right to put the spotlight on the FBI and the federal government. Since the 1970s they were the source of all evil in the eyes of the left, now that is a right-wing view. Although the rise of the FBI plays a minor role. The film revolves around the horror inflicted on Osage County, with the residents having no idea who to exterminate them.
Killers of the Flower Moon is a movie about very, very evil white men, with Robert De Niro menacing as at his best Goodfellowsdays and DiCaprio as a doormat who – despite his apparent love for Molly – has trouble cultivating a conscience or backbone; gradually his face – with the help of a lot of cotton wool under the lower lip – contorts into a grimace.
Bitterest of all
Killers of the Flower Moon could have been short. A lot shorter. But would your blood have boiled just like that after two hours? And had the ending been just as sweet and sour – with Scorsese himself having the last word? This is a worthy contribution to Scorsese’s America of greed, violence and mistrust. Perhaps the bitterest of them all. The years have not made the maestro any happier.