Emerald Fennell’s ‘Saltburn’, a possible new cinematic classic, is an eye-opening film that relays a much-needed “eat the rich” message to our media, earning a well-deserved 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film performed proficiently in the box-office grossing 21.3 million dollars.
Saltburn demonstrated the duality of director Emerald Fennell’s style from her previous works and created a film that no one would willingly ever be able to forget.
Entailed in the two hour thriller, released on Nov. 17, 2023, follows the perspective of a young student, Oliver Quick, (Barry Keoghan) who is attending Oxford University, a typically wealthy, loud institution unlike Quick’s timid, middle class lifestyle. After arriving, Quick immediately becomes infatuated with the popular boy on campus, Felix Catton, (Jacob Elordi).
Quick is quite quick to sexually desire his new peer after they had exchanged several interactions, even being introduced to Felix’s stereotypical rich friends. Felix stood out to Oliver through his acts of kindness, which was most notably, inviting him to his home, Saltburn.
The sexual desire of the film is used as a weapon to show the sadistic dark desires and underlying issues of the wealthy beginning once the setting changes. Once the scene was set, the cinematography features a house tour led by Felix of a beautiful old money abode. One that Quick would specifically never be able to achieve on his own, alluding to the plot further into the film.
During the duration of Quick’s stay, he is greeted with death, sex, highly sensitive topics, and very manipulating circumstances.
There he learns of how odd it is that Felix’s family undermines discomfort in their household, leaving anything of any emotion other than joy in the past. Quick uses this to his advantage to seemingly manipulate every last one of them in unsettling ways to in the end achieve his goal. He does so by turning the family against both of their long time family friends in order to get closer to them which earned their trust in an unknowingly fake relationship. The storyline relies on a slow burning plot twist that no viewer could see coming. The art of cinema is truly amazing with the infinite amount of possibilities of creative directive one can make. In fact, if anything the audience was confused to an extent by the unspeakable acts Quick performed during the film. This included the vampire scene where he carried out sexual acts with Felix’s sister while on her menstrual cycle, the bathtub scene in which he consumed Felix bathtub water along with his semen, and lastly the graveyard scene where he committed an act of necrophilia except only towards the surface of the grave. This was later spoken about to be entirely improvised.
A soundtrack revealing 2023’s exit song, “Murder on the dance floor”, by Sophie Ellis-Bextor kept the film on edge in certain moments while also continuing director Emerald Fennell’s vision of a gothic lore displaying the common recurring theme of obsession in cinema.
Regardless, who in this generation is not obsessed with Jacob Elordi? It was undeniable to catch on to the fact that the desire for Elordi’s looks were the only thing the audience seemed to have in common with Oliver Quick. Elordi’s portrayal of Felix single handedly saved 2023 with the gift of the eyebrow stud, the 1996 inspired Romeo and Juliet wings worn during a Shakespearean party, and undeniably his face and charm which we all missed on the big screen. His appearance in Saltburn accentuated Elordi’s image and talent rather than his portrayal of Elvis in the more serious film, Priscilla, a rendition of Priscilla Presley’s relationship with the late king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley.
Since the film’s release, Elordi has become the media’s favorite “white boy of the month,” in return making edits of his character in Saltburn to the popular song ‘Never be like you’ by Flume. Director Fennell knew what putting Jacob Elordi in as Felix would do to our society and he executed it perfectly.
Saltburn took viewers by surprise in every way possible. The film was filled with every emotion in the book and left many speechless. Though it is nothing new to the average film enjoyer. With newer audiences that have not watched a thriller like ‘Midsommar’ or ‘Hereditary,’ both popular A24 Studio films, it was a scarring experience with the more intimidating scenes as fans took to Tiktok to show their reactions to the film. All in all, it is definitely worth the watch and can instantly become a favorite for those who enjoy slow burn thrillers.