Suffice it to say that before I even begin this review, Saltburn has caused quite a stir.
Certain scenes have inspired memes and TikToks across the globe, with more than one influencer prancing through their mansion to the sound of Sophie Ellis-Bextor's ‘Murder on the Dancefloor' not to mention the reaction from fans as they watch that bathtub scene!
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. It's the second feature film from director Emerald Fennell (after Promising Young Woman) and stars Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, and Richard E. Grant.
So if you haven't watched Saltburn on Amazon Prime Video, then what exactly are you in for, and is it even worth watching?
What Is Saltburn About?
The basics are this. Liverpudlian scholarship student Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) has just started at Oxford University.
With few friends, he is clearly lonely, but one thing leads to another, and he soon finds himself hanging out with the wealthy, privileged, and uber-cool Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi).
It's all very awkward as Oliver tries, rather unsuccessfully, to fit in so much so that just as he's about to get ghosted from the group, his father dies.
Taking pity on him and his terrible circumstances, Felix invites Oliver to his summer house, Saltburn, to spend the Summer holidays with his family.
Knowing that at any minute, they could tire of him, as he witnessed with Poor Dear Pamela (Carey Mulligan), Oliver tries to ingratiate himself into the family.
That means endlessly agreeing with Elspeth (Rosamund Pike), loving the same art as Sir James Catton (Richard E. Grant), and even trying it on with Felix's sister, Venetia (Alison Oliver).
And this is all while staying friends with Felix and getting out from under the prying eyes of Farleigh Start (Archie Madekwe), the nephew who lives with the family.
What transpires is not just a quaint summer vacation at the eccentric family's sprawling estate but the unraveling of all their lives with twists and turns that you just don't see coming.
Saltburn Official Trailer
Is Saltburn Worth Watching?
With so many films being churned out across both the cinema and the various streaming platforms, it's difficult to find one that offers anything resembling a unique proposition.
And that is, first and foremost, why I loved Saltburn. Sure, there are some scenes that I will never be able to unsee and I admit to slight retching at one or two others. But they aren't just for shock value. They are there to impress upon you the lengths that somebody will go to to get what they want. And Oliver Quick wants a lot.
Barry Keoghan is outstanding. You never know where you stand with his character, and to his credit, he played this role with equal measures of desperation and Machiavellianism, leaving you always wondering if he's just unlucky, misunderstood, needy, or downright villainous.
His Golden Globe nomination was rightfully deserved, and it's a shame that Emerald Fennel hasn't been recognised for her achievement because not only did she direct it, but she also wrote and produced it.
As thrillers go, Saltburn is a delight. Not only are we not being led by the nose (devoid of all the usual thrumming music to tell us something bad is going to happen), but we're also treated to a world where the rich are not bad people and those not as well off are not always the good people.
It's clever, it's twisted and it's well worth a watch.
Barry Keoghan (Banshees of Inisherin) as Oliver Quick
Jacob Elordi (The Kissing Booth) as Felix Catton
Rosamund Pike as Lady Elspeth Catton, Felix's mother
Richard E. Grant as Sir James Catton, Felix's father
Alison Oliver as Venetia Catton, Felix's sister
Archie Madekwe as Farleigh Start, Felix's cousin
Carey Mulligan as “Poor Dear” Pamela, Elspeth's friend
Paul Rhys as Duncan, Saltburn's butler
Ewan Mitchell as Michael Gavey, Oliver's friend at college
Sadie Soverall as Annabel
Millie Kent as India
Dorothy Atkinson as Paula Quick, Oliver's mother
Shaun Dooley as Jeff Quick, Oliver's father
Where Was Saltburn Filmed?
From the outset, Emerald Fennell wanted to film Saltburn in a property that had never before been used for a TV/movie production.
She also wanted everything to be contained to one estate, and so she managed to film at Drayton House in Northamptonshire.
Shooting also took place at the University of Oxford at Magdalen College, St Hugh's College, and Brasenose College.
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