Saltburn (2023)
November 28, 2023 8:03 PM - Subscribe

A student at Oxford University finds himself drawn into the world of a charming and aristocratic classmate, who invites him to his eccentric family's sprawling estate for the summer.

Struggling to find his place at Oxford University, student Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) after a chance meeting. Felix invites Oliver him to Saltburn, his eccentric family’s sprawling estate, for a summer never to be forgotten.

Featuring Rosamund Pike, Richard E Grant, Archie Madekwe, Alison Oliver, Carey Mulligan, Paul Rhys, and Reese Shearsmith. Written and directed by Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman).
posted by miss-lapin (28 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Absolutely a deliciously fun ride. Barry Keoghan was phenomenal. I haven't this way about a movie in quite some time. If you want to see it, see in the theater. It's absolutely worth it. I'm definitely going to have to watch it again very soon.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:29 PM on November 28, 2023 [4 favorites]

Looking forward to this one; the trailer looks fab ("steeped in twists and turns" is one quote), and Keoghan is always great. When I read it was from the director of Promising Young Woman I was even more excited, as that was a sharp, provocative, unpredictable, problematic etc film that was a really gripping watch.
posted by mediareport at 5:04 AM on November 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

If you liked Promising Young Woman, see David Slade's* 2005 movie Hard Candy. It tackles exactly the same subject, but in a far more hard-hitting way. A better movie all round, in my opinion.

* no relation.
posted by Paul Slade at 10:19 AM on November 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

I saw Hard Candy. It's a brutal film, and I mean that in the best way.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:40 AM on November 29, 2023

I stayed away from Hard Candy because my tolerance for extended physical brutality in movies has dropped to near-zilch lately and I'd heard it was a bad one for that, but y'all have me rethinking. Maybe I'll gear up for it.

(also, Barry Keoghan has extremely hot acting skills)
posted by mediareport at 4:01 AM on November 30, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'll have to keep an eye out for this one if it features Richard E. Grant.

It's rare that a movie isn't improved by having him in it, which makes me wonder why he isn't in more..
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:48 PM on December 2, 2023 [2 favorites]

Mod note: A couple deleted. Let's avoid "hot or not"-type commentary, please.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:00 PM on December 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

I agree with you Nerd of the North. I need more Richard E Grant in my life.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:51 AM on December 3, 2023 [2 favorites]

Just saw this and absolutely agree with miss-lapin. It felt like finally seeing The Secret History brought to life as a bananas revenge dark comedy.

It's also beautifully filmed. Even the parts that might make one squeamish are shot like art pieces.

The person I saw this with loved everything until the slightly too on-the-nose montage of how things were done. I agree that it could have been left ambiguous and would have been more powerful, and I am wondering if test audiences or the studio demanded it. I'd love to see a revised cut that goes from breathing tube to dance with nothing in-between.

Barry Keoghan blew me away in this. He does creepy so well that I almost fear he'll be typecast forever......but this movie required 100% commitment and he did it. That there were moments I'd describe as erotically deranged is a testament to that. It's not something I ever thought I'd feel in a movie. I'm usually just grossed out or annoyed. Keoghan changed that for me.
posted by haplesschild at 3:57 PM on December 8, 2023 [3 favorites]

Movies with such horrible people usually don't keep my interest at the same level as my disgust, but this one pulled it off. My habit of avoiding as much info as possible before seeing a movie paid off, too; it was obvious horrible things would happen but I still was guessing exactly what.

Minor thing but the early camera work really emphasized the difference in physical size between Ollie and the others. He looks like a 14 year old in the first shot from back and they keep it up for a while. By the end that's gone and he's at eye level with everyone.

until the slightly too on-the-nose montage

Most of it changed nothing about what we'd just seen, with the exception of showing him deliberately causing the flat tire. I don't know if it was necessary or an improvement but it shifted his character quite a bit.
posted by mark k at 5:26 PM on December 9, 2023 [4 favorites]

It reminded me of an alternate universe version of The Talented Mr. Ripley though I agree with the comparison to Tartt's The Secret History.

Also, the use of fluids in this film was, well, draining.
posted by Stanczyk at 10:27 AM on December 27, 2023 [4 favorites]

I watched this on Christmas Day with a couple of friends, and we all enjoyed it. But we ended up having to put the subtitles on because we could hardly hear some of the dialogue. We almost missed the plot point about the cousin/Sothebys because we couldn't hear what the characters were saying.

That said, it was a very enjoyable film, but then I am a huge fan of The Talented Mr Ripley (both book and movie), Brideshead Revisited (the book and TV series, but not the dreadful movie), and, coming from the working class, I have a fascination with the upper classes and their sense of entitlement to privileges that are denied to most people. The entire cast was perfectly cast and, as others have said, Barry Keoghan was phenomenal.
posted by essexjan at 4:17 PM on December 29, 2023

I tend to like stuff like this, but it was a pale, pale imitation of Talented Mr Ripley. Keoghan never creates the dread you feel around Ripley.

Excellent soundtrack tho, SEB at the end is perfect. Daahhncefloor.
posted by Klipspringer at 7:32 PM on December 29, 2023

I'm not sure what hot-or-not commentary was deleted, but it's a shallow film about shallow hot people being hot and shallow, so was probably quite appropriate. Did that dick get its own separate credit?
posted by Klipspringer at 7:36 PM on December 29, 2023

This movie was satisfyingly trashy, and sometimes all you want is a trashy, undemanding film about horrible, beautiful people doing horrible things. But even though a few individual scenes pushed the envelope I did not feel like the movie did anything particularly new with the whole Brideshead Revisited/Talented Mr Ripley thing. (The Little Stranger is my favourite Brideshead re-imagining - it actually does do something different and effective with the conceit of 'outsider obsessed by beautiful rich people living in beautiful house'.) The script didn't feel very subtle - I felt like a lot of the Oxford scenes were very by the numbers. The movie gets better when the action moves to Saltburn, for sure.

Rosamund Pike and Richard E. Grant were just wonderful, so funny and you could tell they were having the time of their lives playing these awful posh people.
posted by unicorn chaser at 4:29 AM on January 2

So I liked this much better than The Talented Mr. Ripley, which I thought fell flat. (The movie, I know nothing about the book.) The idea that Matt Damon was a schemer who could impersonate a rich person always seemed far more "tell" than "show" in that movie. Whereas Ollie was very much an awkward but manipulative shit ad-libbing his way around a self-absorbed clan who'd always felt secure in their wealth and accepted hangers-on.

TBF, I probably would have liked it less than I'd did if I'd walked in hearing it compared to Mr. Ripley before seeing it. Going in blind meant I wasn't 100% sure whether Ollie would end up victim or perpetrator for most of the movie, and that was part of the fun.

I also don't think it works as a critique of wealth. I was fine with that because I didn't think it was trying to do so. It makes fun of the rich people in the movie, but it was a pretty idiosyncratic set of characters and foibles.
posted by mark k at 1:10 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]

So I mostly loved this, inasmuch as "loved it" can be applied to a movie I watched mostly through my fingers due to how much it stressed me the fuck out. It's gorgeous, shocking, and deranged, and the cast is so perfect for it that it feels almost like a magic trick.


As best as I can tell, the "climax" of the movie is the scene with Oliver and Venetia in the bathroom, where she cuts to the bone of exactly who and what Oliver is. And then everything after that, save for maybe the scene of Sir James paying Oliver off to leave already, is so much less than what came before, and flattens the story and the characters in a way that's "tidier" but much less interesting. Going all "Kind Hearts & Coronets" in the final moments is fun, yes, but fun in a very different way from where the rest of the movie had been going, and seems to point to us being supposed to cheer Oliver on in the end because "Eat the Rich," which I get, but Oliver is such a sociopath, and Venetia relatively sympathetic, that I couldn't quite follow it there.

But damn, that bathroom scene was killer (as was so, so much of this movie.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:04 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]

I loved this! Barry Keoghan is just fantastic and Rosamund Pike was great too. I wasn’t in a violent movie kind of mood when Promising Young Woman came out but think I will give it a try!

(Sorry!) You Can Thank an Octopus for the Saltburn Bathtub Scene’s Sound Effects [Vulture / Archive]
Let’s Talk About Duncan the Butler in Saltburn [Vulture / Archive]
Saltburn’s Choreographer Explains Barry Keoghan’s Naked-Dance Scene Ending [Vulture / Archive]
Why We Still Can’t Stop Talking About Saltburn [Vogue / Archive]
‘It could be an advert for Oxford’: what does Saltburn say about class and privilege in the UK? (Gets meaner towards the end) [Guardian / Archive]
posted by ellieBOA at 3:00 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]

I enjoyed this, but the bathtub scene and the grave scene--while both striking and bonkers--are ones I have trouble fitting into the reviased narrative we get via the end montage. They were acts of obsession/infatuation, but if it turns out he hated the guy the whole time and was conning him and his family? There's probably a reading that fits those in seamlessly too, but after one watch, it's not adding for me yet.

Still a great movie.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:22 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Also the grave scene was improvised from Barry Keoghan’s idea!

So, you know, try to show that kind of initiative at your own jobs, everyone!
posted by Navelgazer at 11:06 AM on January 10 [8 favorites]

the best thing about it was the last half hour or so, none of which would have resonated without the previous almost two hours. So it lands as a big fat overloaded "satire" on Britain's upper class and their uneasy and ongoing efforts to reconcile The Common People.

The Ruling Class comes to mind. SPOILER ALERT. This is how it ends ... but it's not really giving much away.

I guess I'm mostly just glad my forefathers got the hell off that island back in the 19th century, mostly as indentured slaves but that's another story.
posted by philip-random at 10:59 PM on January 11

So, you know, try to show that kind of initiative at your own jobs, everyone!

[grumbling] No one at the office ever respects my out-of-the-box initiative when I drop trou and hump an inanimate object.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:01 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]

I loved this, in general, for both style and acting and willingness to commit, except for the montage of "what really happened", which seemed to presume the people watching are entirely unable to handle any ambiguity. But any movie which has an intense scene of period oral sex, then later a line of dialogue of someone shouting 'eat the bloody pie!' is doing some very odd humor with its rich people/imposter melodrama.
posted by lizard music at 4:36 PM on January 20

I mean, it is an engaging movie all the way through. I'm torn between being skeptical of the film's politics (per the Guardian take) and appreciating that the Rosamund Pike character is so funny that I'll just take it for entertainment anyway.

I'm very curious what Oliver got up to in the time between getting paid off by Richard E. Grant and "coincidentally" running into Rosamund Pike at the end, though I'm sure it wouldn't have added much to the film. But he put so much energy into those six months! What did he do for the next decade?!
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:44 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]

Can’t believe no one has mentioned Gormenghast! Steerpike vibes all day.
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 6:05 PM on January 28

the best thing about it was the last half hour or so, none of which would have resonated without the previous almost two hours.

I realize I wasn't very clear here.

What I really would have liked was the Saltburn that earns that ending, which it doesn't. But rather, it seems to want it both ways. To be a troubling, incisive study of desire and obsession and (of course) the enduring shambles of the British class system ... and a nasty, dark, Patricia Highsmith-like thriller that leads us smartly down a subversive rabbit hole that could only really end in murder.

And the thing is, I think it could have achieved all of this. That is, I could easily buy an Oliver Quick who both deeply adored Felix Catton (and his fucked up family), and ultimately kill them all off without feeling too much remorse. Because seriously, the British Upper Class -- fuck 'em. It would end exactly as it does with Oliver triumphant and exultant, but it would have to seriously re-think some of its other wayward narrative strands ...

A well made and ambitious movie sold short by what feels like an incomplete screenplay.
posted by philip-random at 6:42 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]

Loved it until the final montage, which completely spoiled the movie for me.
posted by signal at 7:53 PM on February 20

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