Saltburn: A Sharp Social Satire
Emerald Fennell’s latest film, Saltburn, packs a punch with its biting social satire and provocative exploration of privilege. Set in the opulent Saltburn estate, the film exposes the hidden truths behind the façade of wealth and traditionalism. Fennell, known for her exceptional writing skills, delivers once again, and Barry Keoghan shines in his role as Oliver Quick.
Drawing inspiration from classic works such as Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and iconic comedies like Kind Hearts and Coronets, Saltburn takes viewers on a journey into a world where appearances are everything. Lady Elspeth Catton, played brilliantly by Rosamund Pike, and her husband Sir James, portrayed by Richard E. Grant, reside in this secluded paradise, accompanied only by their children Felix and Venetia.
Keoghan’s portrayal of Oliver, Felix’s university friend, is understated yet impactful. Through subtle manipulation and a dominant presence, Oliver unravels the true nature of the Catton family. His complex relationship with Felix adds another layer to the film, exploring the themes of entitlement and wealth. Cinematographer Linus Sandgren’s dreamlike visuals further enhance the film’s ethereal quality.
Saltburn’s humor arises from the stark contrast between the immaculate estate and the oblivious guests who expect to be catered to. Only Duncan, the butler played by Paul Rhys, bears witness to the true nature of the Cattons and their disregard for the outside world. Fennell skillfully dissects the class system and questions its relevance in today’s society, exploring the misguided belief that monetary wealth leads to happiness.
In many ways, Saltburn evokes the atmosphere of a classic Hammer horror film, replacing supernatural creatures with something even more sinister and devoid of humanity. As the film reaches its climax, Fennell delves into darker territories, unraveling shocking revelations.
However, Saltburn falters slightly in the final act, with pacing issues that cause the film to lose momentum. Despite this, the finale surprises with a cheeky and memorable sign-off, showcasing Keoghan’s talent and leaving the audience humming a catchy tune by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.