Directed by Emerald Fennell

Written by Emerald Fennell 

Starring: Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike

At his first year of university, Oliver (Barry Keoghan) falls into the orbit of the scion of the Catton family, Felix (Jacob Elordi). Invited to spend the summer at the family estate Oliver finds himself in a world of old money opulence he had previously only dreamed about. Yet Saltburn hides many secrets in its walls, and every member of the household is playing their own game. 

In many ways Saltburn is a modern retelling of Brideshead Revisited, at least to a point. It gives us an inside to a world of riches and the traditions of old money . Where Waugh’s work is full of wistful nostalgia for halcyon days Fennell brings us something darker and nuanced. These are not the bright young things broken by war, religion, and repressed sexuality. Instead they are hedonistic social parasites, using people to stave off boredom. 

Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) weaves this tale with masterful style and stunning economy. They’re not afraid to jettison scenes to keep the story moving along, and the audience never feels lost for it. As such Saltburn packs a lot into its two hour runtime, as the various parties engage in their twisted social games. 

Barry Keoghan gives us an extraordinary performance that falls between naive and creepy. You have trouble placing where exactly he falls on this spectrum till the very end, but it’s an utterly riveting journey. Jacob Elordi plays the favoured son of the Catton family with appropriate ease and ennui. However Rosamund Pike and Richard E Grant come close to stealing the film as the wonderfully comedic out of touch nobles. 

This is a convoluted tale, never leaving the audience on stable ground. Fennell ‘s brutal wit brings us a work of sharp black humour and moving tragedy. Saltburn is a house full of petty motivation and rivalry, and as such engaging viewing.

DAVID O’CONNELL 

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