Friday, December 1, 2023


Single White Female meets The Talented Mr. Ripley in this psychological thriller about how the awkward Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) becomes infatuated with one of his classmates at Oxford, the beautiful, wealthy, and popular Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), and begins to wedge himself into Felix's life, eventually getting invited to spend the summer at the palatial estate which gives the film's its title.

With Oliver coming from more modest means, there is a class theme throughout the film, but themes of excess, greed, and obsession play more prominently in the narrative. The audience is quickly clued in that there is something seriously wrong with Oliver far beyond  being born into a lower class. The film is well cast with Keoghan working as both the unassuming friend and something far more devious, Elordi as the golden Felix, and Richard E. Grant, Rosamund Pike, Alison Oliver, and Archie Madekwe completing the other mainstays of Saltburn, with the surroundings and the stylish tone from writer-director Emerald Fennell adding to the feel of the film.

For me, Saltburn works better as an experience than a story. As events escalate, or devolve (depending on your point of view), the film runs into multiple scenes where it is forced to straddle the line between bizarre and absurd, and doesn't always come out on the intended side (with more than one sequence in particular being unintentionally hilarious).

The fact that every character who is introduced is either cruel, devious, vain, mean, or wicked enough to be immediately recognizable for their faults also means we aren't given someone to root for or want to see protected from the evils found the lushness of Saltburn. In this world, everyone apparently deserves whatever they get. Odds are you will guess the scope of Oliver's plans long before they are revealed, although the film never really lets us in on his true motivations leaving a rather large hole at the center of events. Without that motivation, lacking the spine of what made Fennell's Promising Young Woman tick, Saltburn is a more empty experience that, while stylish, isn't something I'd be likely to return to any time soon.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Saltburn
  • IMDb: link

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