Verdict: Buckle up! Emerald Fennell's latest movie is a dark, twisted and shocking ride

  • Barry Keoghan, Rosamund Pike, Jacob Elordi, Carey Mulligan, Richard E. Grant
  • November 17th 2023
  • Emerald Fennell

Barry Keoghan’s Oliver is invited to stay at his friend Felix’s sprawling estate, Saltburn, for the summer.

After making a splash with her directorial debut Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell returns with the audacious Saltburn.

This thriller tells the story of Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan), a student at Oxford University on a scholarship in the mid-2000s.

He finds himself drawn into the world of the rich and charismatic Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) and is invited to stay at his family’s estate, Saltburn, for a summer they will never forget.

The concept might sound familiar and there’s a reason for that – it is basically the same as Brideshead Revisited. But Saltburn takes the premise of Brideshead and then forges its own unexpected path.

With 2020’s Promising Young Woman, Fennell gave us just a taste of how dark and disturbing her movies could be. She does not hold back with Saltburn, which feels designed to shock and provoke without much substance behind it.

Some people will not enjoy sitting through some of the more uncomfortably unhinged scenes or the moments of graphic nudity and sex – it really depends on your taste.

It may be deranged, but Saltburn is fun and exciting because you don’t know where Fennell is going to go next.

However, she sometimes opts against showing us pivotal moments in the story when it would have been more satisfying to see them play out. Also, there are some pacing issues and it could have been wrapped up quicker towards the end.

Whatever you feel about the story, the quality of the acting cannot be denied. Keoghan gives a fearless, courageous performance that takes his portrayals of twisted characters to new heights, while Elordi, who is Australian, speaks in an impressively convincing British accent and he is visually perfect as the object of Oliver’s obsession.

Rosamund Pike and Richard E. Grant are fantastic as Felix’s parents Elsbeth and James. They deliver the most awful lines of dialogue with such nonchalance that you can’t help but laugh.

The film is funny in general but these two are responsible for the most laughs.

Like Promising Young Woman, Saltburn will not be for everyone – but you will definitely be talking about it for hours afterwards.

In cinemas on Friday 17th November.

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