DiCaprio praises Scorsese's epic 'reckoning with past' at Cannes

US actor Leonardo DiCaprio poses during a photocall for the film 'Killers of the Flower Moon' at the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on 21 May, 2023.AFP

Leonardo DiCaprio lauded Martin Scorsese's filmmaking "ferocity" on Sunday as they basked in rave reviews at Cannes for their Native American crime epic ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, while the festival also bowed down before Jude Law as King Henry VIII.

Scorsese's latest opus, about a wave of murders among oil-rich Osage Indians in the 1920s, was hailed as "searing", a "triumph" and a "masterpiece" by critics who scored the Cannes Film Festival's hottest ticket for the premiere the previous night.

Based on a non-fiction bestseller, the film sees DiCaprio as a weak-willed man who marries a wealthy Osage woman and is drawn into the deadly schemes of his kingpin uncle, played by Scorsese's other long-time muse, Robert De Niro.

DiCaprio called the three-and-a-half-hour film "a reckoning with our past" and was full of praise for Scorsese, saying the 80-year-old's "perseverance and ferocity to tell the truth, no matter how ugly... is masterful".

Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from historical drama film 'Killers Of The Flower Moon'.

Scorsese told AFP he had put the film in an out-of-competition slot, rather than compete for the Palme d'Or, because "it's time for others. I got to go."

The iconic director, who won the Palme in 1976 for ‘Taxi Driver’, said: "I like the golden statues. I like them very much. But now I think of time and energy and inspiration -- that's the most important thing."

The dust had barely settled on that glitzy premiere when the red carpet lit up again for ‘Firebrand’ starring Jude Law as 16th-century English king Henry VIII alongside Alicia Vikander as his sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr.

Early reviews were broadly positive, namely for what The Guardian called Law's "obese and oozy" incarnation, noting the British star "outrageously steals every scene".

The Hollywood Reporter also praised the film for "providing a great leading role for an actress to bite into, which Alicia Vikander does with gusto."

The 76th Cannes Film Festival - Screening of the film 'Killers of the Flower Moon' Out of Competition - Red Carpet Arrivals - Cannes, France, 20 May, 2023. Director Martin Scorsese, cast members Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro pose.

'Drives me crazy'

Vikander told AFP she was drawn to Parr as "extremely intelligent and extremely progressive... and a woman who survived a tyrant for several years".

She said Law had done "incredible research... to make this tyrant and historical figure into a man".

‘Firebrand’ is in the increasingly tight race for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, to be announced on 27 May.

Among the entries is Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore's new film ‘May December’ about a woman who caused a tabloid scandal by marrying a schoolboy -- and the actor who enters their lives years later to research a role.

Portman told AFP she liked seeing women "behave in morally ambiguous ways".

The 76th Cannes Film Festival - Screening of the film "Killers of the Flower Moon" Out of Competition - Red Carpet Arrivals - Cannes, France, 20 May, 2023. Cast members Jillian Dion, Tantoo Cardinal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro, Cara Jade Myers, Janae Collins and Director Martin Scorsese pose.

"It always drives me crazy when people are like, 'Oh, if only women rule the world, it would be a kinder place'. No, women are humans and come in all different complexities," she said.

Arguably the current favourite for the Palme is British director Jonathan Glazer's ‘The Zone of Interest’, a unique and horrifying look at the private life of a Nazi officer working at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

It was partly inspired by a book of the same name by British novelist Martin Amis, who died on Saturday at the age of 73.

A total of 21 films are in the main competition, with entries from past winners Wim Wenders, Ken Loach and Nanni Moretti still to come.

'Trust and betrayal'

Scorsese's Apple-funded film is due for general release in October.

The Guardian awarded it five stars for a "remarkable epic about the bloody birth of America", while IndieWire hailed DiCaprio's "best-ever performance".

Scorsese said he chose to focus on the poisonous marriage between DiCaprio's character and his wife, played by Lily Gladstone, as "a template for that tragedy of love, trust and betrayal of the indigenous people".

De Niro said his character represented "systemic racism" and "the banality of evil".