Emerald Fennell wowed me with her directorial debut, Promising Young Woman, a film that felt fearless in its approach to telling its story. Fennell clearly doesn't mind dividing an audience and, if her latest Saltburn is anything to go by, it's about to happen all over again.

Struggling to find his place at Oxford University, Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), who invites him to Saltburn, his eccentric family's sprawling estate, for a summer never to be forgotten.
Saltburn feels a little too familiar to make it truly stand out yet Emerald Fennell ensures it's an enjoyable cinematic experience nonetheless. Some of the stuff that happens here may soon have you questioning my use of enjoyable mind. Oliver and Felix meeting at Oxford University and striking up a friendship is very run-of-the-mill however, it's when the film gets to the titular house of Saltburn where things start to take an interesting turn. The Catton family are a caricature of an aristocratic family, Fennell revelling in making some of them as pompous as possible. It's the motivations of a particular character that didn't quite gel for me though, leading to a finale that isn't really as shocking as Fennell would hope for.

The film looks immaculate but that comes as no surprise when you see that Linus Sandgren was the cinematographer for the film, capturing the luscious grounds of Saltburn so wonderfully and the use of a 1.33:1 aspect ratio only enhancing the closeness of the characters throughout. Anthony Willis' score serves the film with an ominous undercurrent at times and whoever put the soundtrack together deserves a bonus, going from Zadok the Priest to Murder on the Dancefloor quite a  phenomenal choice.
At the centre of the film, Saltburn possesses a captivating lead performance from Barry Keoghan. There has to be a time where I stop writing the man has a big future ahead of himself because he's living it right now. Keoghan plays the obsessive Oliver incredibly well, a characteristic he's become so used to but just delivered in a different manner each time. Jacob Elordi puts on his best posh boy accent and goes toe-to-toe with Keoghan as Felix, their dynamic being quite enthralling throughout. As Felix's parents, Rosamund Pike and Richard E. Grant are splendid - the detestable mother and the lovable oaf of a father.

While it didn't impress me as much as Promising Young Woman, Saltburn further proves that Emerald Fennell doesn't do things by halves and that Barry Keoghan will literally do anything you ask him to do in a film.

Verdict: ★★★½


  1. This film is slow paced and predictable. While it does offer some qrotesque and shocking scenes, there is nothing of substance to see or experience. There isn't even a sense of moral victory to redeem the "eat the rich" trope since the protagonist is depraved. I get the sense, when reading rave reviews of this film, that critics are praising the emperor's new clothes. This is not a good film.


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