Saltburn (2023)

Saltburn (2023)

A black comedy of perilous desire that's perfectly acted and rightfully unhinged

The Very Best

8.5

Movie

United Kingdom, United States of America
English
Comedy, Drama, Thriller
2023
EMERALD FENNELL, FEMALE DIRECTOR
Alison Oliver, Andy Brady, Archie Madekwe
131 min

TLDR

The things we'd do for Jacob Elordi...

What it's about

It's mid-2000s: an outsider at Oxford University, Oliver (Barry Keoghan) befriends the aristocratic heir Felix (Jacob Elordi), and by extension, his whole family during one unforgettable summer at their castle, Saltburn.

The take

Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell got a lot of free reign with her debut, Promising Young Woman, which was a slightly modest ordeal even with a lead of Carrey Mulligan's calibre. But now, with her sophomore film, she go to have some fun. Assembling a devout cast of particularly skilled actors—Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, and Mulligan again—seems like an obvious decision, but the mix of them all is unlike anything we've seen before. A class satire, a psychological thriller, and a psychosexual drama, Saltburn is high class entertainment, with a snappy script, and many tricks up its sleeve. Brace yourselves for some bath-action, grave-action, and full-moon-menstrual-action and many other scenes you may have not ever pictured shown on the screen. Actually, it's impossible to prepare for a film like this one, but being open certainly helps digest the shock and provocations that are there for you to behold.

What stands out

Fennell's Oscar certainly helped get cinematographer Linus Sandgren (Babylon, LaLa Land, No Time To Die) on board for her second feature. Even if his style can be described as "pure Hollywood", anyone who's seen Damien Chazelle's Babylon knows the resilience put into constructing complex scenes with a lot of props and action. For Saltburn, Sandgren's mastery manifests in tight framing that's often counter-intuitive: a hard cut to a sink full of vomit, to make us focus on the reflection in the mirror above; a long take of a naked, dynamic dance number, or a quick-paced montage of all the major dramatic events in the film played at its very start. The visuals of Saltburn are unapologetically bold, including all these moments where Felix is framed as a god-like creature, in close-ups of the wet hair on his neck, an overexposed smile looking away from the sun, or a clandestine peak of him in the bath. The fascination, embodied by Olvier, cannot get more tactile than this.

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