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Saltburn - a savage yet satisfying watch

Emerald Fennell’s latest psychological thriller, Saltburn still has viewers talking three months after its release due to its intricate and twisted plot. 

Saltburn poster

(An official poster on IMDb)

The 2000 set thriller follows a quirky Oliver Quick (Barry Keogan) who finds himself bewildered by a fellow student at Oxford University – an aristocratic Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), resulting in an unexpected friendship and spending an ostentatious summer at the Catton’s eccentric family estate. A summer he will never forget… and a movie film – fanatics will struggle to get out of their minds.

Saltburn caused a divide in cinemas with many viewers eating up the catchy Y2K soundtrack, posh vibes, and gorgeous cast, however, many found the movie very sinister and dark in places. Fennell was hailed, however, for how she crafted the stories of these extravagant characters, in a slow-burning manner, allowing us to slowly grasp what is happening to each of them scene by scene until the secret of Saltburn is finally uncovered. However, Fennell does not reveal this until the final forty minutes of the thriller, leaving viewers at the end of their seats as they begin to work out the cunning plans of the twisted villain.


(The picture was taken from IMDb)

Critics were quick to mock this modern–day Great Gatsby due to the movie's dark tone and the unspeakable scenes seen throughout, such as the gory bathtub moment and the squirm–inducing graveyard scene. Many movie lovers felt that directors focused more on forcing the film's intention onto viewers, rather than letting them decide for themselves. The bold vibes, aristocratic wealth, and intentional ‘eat the rich’ satire added to this idea.

Despite criticisms, Barry Keogan has been praised constantly for how well he played the role of a cunning Quick, along with co-star Elordi’s ‘euphoric’ performance of the entitled student. Additionally, Rosamund Pike and Richard E. Grant gave a rather convincing performance of middle-class parents and their ignorance towards the world around them. 

The foreshadowing cleverly placed throughout the movie sparked conversation also, with the final scene rounding up this whole theme. A naked Barry Keogan dancing around the Catton’s manor to Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Murder on the Dance Floor, created a pleasant ending, allowing viewers to momentarily forget the two hours of thrilling torment they had endured. 

Emerald Fennell’s fans look into the future hopeful of another Saltburn–esque movie, maybe this time with fewer bathtubs!

/Niamh McLaughlin

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