Even on the scale of Cannes, the presentation of Killers of the Flower Moon, the new film by Martin Scorsese, took on an epic event character. Although his fresco of more than three hours is different in tone and style from all that the director of Taxi Driver has proposed so far, it has nonetheless won over festival-goers.

Thierry Frémaux, general delegate of the festival, did try to convince Martin Scorsese and the directors of Apple and Paramount studios to include Killers of the Flower Moon in the official competition, but the new fresco by a filmmaker who, in 1976, won the Palme d’or thanks to Taxi Driver, was finally presented on Saturday out of competition. The studios have indeed estimated that the launches of Top Gun: Maverick and Elvis last year on the Croisette had launched the careers of these two great productions so well that it was useless to put in competition such a long-awaited feature film. , directed by one of the contemporary masters of cinema.

Obviously, the presentation of Killers of the Flower Moon, which lasts 206 minutes, was the most popular event of the day on Saturday, the screening for journalists and the gala screening taking place almost simultaneously. By bringing to the screen a screenplay he wrote with Eric Roth (Munich, Dune) inspired by a book published by David Grann, Martin Scorsese offers one of his most accomplished films, even if grace is expressed here in a slightly less spectacular way than in his previous works.

“You’re more likely to convict someone who kicked a dog than someone who killed an Indian. This line, launched by a lawyer in this America of the 1920s, sums up in itself the state of mind reigning in Oklahoma at that time. And likely also explains why Leonardo DiCaprio and the filmmaker evolved this project over the years to focus more specifically on the history of the Osage Nation, which occupied oil-rich territory, including members were mysteriously – and horribly – murdered.

Killers of the Flower Moon begins beautifully with an Aboriginal funeral ritual, which concludes with the explosion of a jet of oil spraying jubilant individuals. When Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), a war veteran, returns home to his uncle William Hale (Robert De Niro), a leading rancher in the region, we are surprised to see how much crossbreeding is prized in the family and how these unions between white men and First Nations women seem integrated and harmonious. This is of course a misleading impression.

Distilling a spirit of true crime, the story is devoted to unearthing the culprits of murders that keep piling up, systematically targeting Native people. We are particularly interested here in the journey of Ernest and his wife Molly (Lily Gladstone), particularly affected by the tragedy. Uncle William is also very involved in the life of the couple, which also gives us great scenes between Martin Scorsese’s two favorite actors, who meet for the first time in front of the filmmaker’s camera.

It is also worth highlighting the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio, remarkable in the skin of a man who gradually loses all his certainties, and, above all, that of Robert De Niro. The latter plays here one of the greatest roles of his career. Capable of being both fundamentally human and incredibly cruel, his character is reminiscent of – particularly in a scene where he gives a punishment – ​​the Al Capone of The Untouchables…

That said, the reveal of Killers of the Flower Moon is Lily Gladstone. Seen in particular in the films of Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women, First Cow), the actress gratifies us with a great composition in the role of a woman married to a man who is perhaps not quite the one she thinks she knows.

Ultimately, Martin Scorsese lifts the veil on a chapter of American history that is too little known, told from the point of view of those who were tragically harmed by the injustices of the time.

We will obviously have the opportunity to talk about it again over the next few months, since Killers of the Flower Moon will be released in theaters on October 20th. Martin Scorsese’s feature film will later be streamed online by Apple.