Killers of the Flower Moon: what is Martin Scorsese epic about, UK release date, cast - what do critics say?

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The movie received a nine-minute standing ovation when it was shown at Cannes Film Festival 2023

It's safe to say that Martin Scorsese made a triumphant return to the Cannes Film Festival, as the iconic director unveiled period epic Killers of the Flower Moon starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

The movie, which is based on a true story, premiered on Saturday (20 May) and received by far the biggest standing ovation at this year's event. It marks Scorsese's first appearance at Cannes since 1985 when he showed off dark comedy After Hours.

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One of the biggest takeaways from the unveiling, apart from the blockbuster film itself, was the impressive performance by actress Lily Gladstone, who fans labelled as the best discovery of the show. With not too many high-profile acting credits to her name, the 37-year-old is best known for her brief stint in Sky drama Billions (2016-present).

Gladstone and her fellow cast members were left emotional by the reaction as they joined Scorsese's on the stage after the 3 hour and 26 minute showcase came to a close. They all mouthed 'thank you' to those in attendance inside the Palais.

But what is Killers of the Flower Moon about and when will it arrive in cinemas so the general public can watch it? Here is everything you must know.

What is Killers of the Flower Moon about?

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in Killers of the Flower Moon - Credit: Paramount / AppleLeonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in Killers of the Flower Moon - Credit: Paramount / Apple
Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in Killers of the Flower Moon - Credit: Paramount / Apple | Paramount Pictures and Apple

The film, which was co-written by Scorscese and Eric Roth, tells the true yet horrific tale of the Osage Indian murders that took place in Oklahoma back in the 1920s. It is inspired by the non-fictional book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by American journalist David Grann.

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Following the discovery of oil on tribal land, people of the Osage tribe rose to affluence and generated tens of millions of dollars making them one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. This made the federal government grow concerned enough to appoint Caucasian guardians to help with 'financial management' and caused quite the envy from other communities.

The discovery of a dead Osage tribe member in the woods was the first of over 60 mysterious deaths which followed. Due to the incidents, the FBI launched an investigation led by Agent Tom White who uncovers a complicated plot by a local who wants to take over the reigns of the Osage oil.

It is a true Oscar-worthy plot that explores key themes like racism, betrayal, murder and greed.

When does Killers of the Flower Moon come out in the UK?

Scorsese's latest extravaganza was first shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The buzz that came from it has made fans even more excited for when it is made widely available.

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Killers of the Flower Moon is earmarked to release in selected cinemas on Friday, 6 October 2023. Don't be sad if it does not hit any theatres near you, as it will then be available to stream on Apple TV+ from Friday, 20 October.

What the critics are saying about Killers of the Flower Moon - review round-up

It's yet another return to form by Martin Scorsese if the critics are anything to go by, as the period epic has been hailed as a 'triumph', a 'masterpiece' and 'one of the best ever made'.

The Guardian awarded the drama an outstanding five out of five stars, describing it as "a remarkable epic about the bloody birth of America". The Independent also awarded the move a perfect score and described Lily Gladstone's performance as "one of the most extraordinary by a woman in any of Scorsese’s movies".

IndieWire said that DiCaprio's performance in the just-over three hour movie as his "best ever performance". The Telegraph noted that Scorsese has "outdone himself again".

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While there are a select few who were not so impressed by Killers of the Flower Moon. To name just two, The Times labelled it as "a damp squib" and Variety criticised the duration of the movie but still described the experience as "compelling".

Watch the trailer to Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon cast list

  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart
  • Robert De Niro as William Hale
  • Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart
  • Jesse Plemons as Tom White
  • Tantoo Cardinal as Lizzie Q
  • John Lithgow as Prosecutor Leaward
  • Brendan Fraser as W.S Hamilton
  • Cara Jade Myers as Anna Kyle Brown
  • Janae Collins as Rita

For more details about the above mentioned cast members, as well as a breakdown of all the actors starring in the movie, visit the Killers of the Flower Moon IMDB page.

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