Film review: Saltburn starring Rosamund Pike and Richard E. Grant

Saltburn, a quirky yet amusing psychosexual slapstick thriller. Think Brideshead Revisited (2008) meets The Talented Mr Ripley (1999). It seems an unusual genre because it is. Crude, gruesome and funny at the same time. Watching this movie is a guilty pleasure. Read here why London Mums give Saltburn a 7/10 rating. But make sure you don’t bring the children to see it.

saltburn movie screening monica costa editor london mums magazine 2023

Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn has entered the cinematic scene with its mix of comedy, drama, and mystery, drawing attention for its peculiar narrative set in the upper echelons of English society. Barry Keoghan portrays Oliver Quick, a struggling Oxford student, entangled in the aristocratic world of Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) during an unforgettable summer at the eccentric Saltburn estate. This review, free from hyperbole, delves into the film’s substance, the depiction of privilege, and its overall impact.

Saltburn movie posters collage by london mums magazine

The story 

Academy Award winning film-maker Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) brings us a beautifully wicked tale of privilege and desire. 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), who invites him to Saltburn, his eccentric family’s sprawling estate, for a summer never to be forgotten.
 

The trailer

 

The verdict

The film navigates the privileged world of Felix Catton, inviting viewers into a peculiar blend of psychosexual slapstick thriller, reminiscent of Brideshead Revisited meets The Talented Mr Ripley. The narrative, while watchable, occasionally treads the line of overheated grandiosity, incorporating second-hand posh-effect styling from literature and cinema history.

Keoghan’s portrayal of Oliver lacks the vivid neediness characteristic of Tom Ripley, though he exhibits an unsettling Ripley-esque obsession with Felix’s bathwater. The film explores the realm of the English nobility without the depth of Catholicism or wartime regret present in comparable works like Brideshead Revisited.

Saltburn is stamped with an R rating for graphic nudity, drug use, disturbing violent content, strong sexual content, and language throughout. The explicit scenes involving grave desecration, frontal male nudity, and unusual intimate acts might be unsettling for some viewers, reinforcing the film’s unsuitability for audiences under 18.

The film-makers must be commended for their daring approach, unbound by restrictions or prudish conventions. The explicit content, although divisive, contributes to the film’s unique identity. The juxtaposition of superb photography captures the narcissistic psychopathy against a backdrop of contemporary British aristocracy, evoking a sense of Victorianesque contrast.

Fennell’s direction, complemented by an ensemble cast including Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, and Carey Mulligan, weaves a tale that unfolds in a visually striking manner. The cinematography skilfully accentuates the clash between a narcissistic psychopath and the British aristocracy, providing a fresh perspective.

Despite its quirks, Saltburn emerges as a competent piece of cinema. The film explores the eccentricities of privilege and desire within a unique socio-cultural context. While it may not reach the heights of its literary inspirations, the narrative and characters manage to entertain.

London Mums’ rating

Saltburn earns a London Mums’ rating of 7/10. It presents a peculiar mix of genres, pushing boundaries and challenging conventions. The explicit content, while bold, may not resonate with all audiences. Nevertheless, Fennell’s film stands as a distinctive entry in the world of English mystery dramas.

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