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  • Lucia Laski

Saltburn Review

Manipulative, dark, and fun… is the only way to characterize Emerald Fennell’s sophomore film, Saltburn. The film is set in early 2000s England, telling the story of young Oliver, played by Oscar-nominee Barry Keoghan, who enters the lavish world of his university friend Felix, played by the talented Jacob Elordi, spending an unforgettable summer at his family’s estate. Emerald Fennell’s work keeps you on your toes, wondering, “There’s no way it could go even further” at every moment. While many critics do recognize the gorgeous cinematography and phenomenal score, some still find the film to be empty and shallow at its core. I disagree with these critics, as I find that the meaning of the film lies within a seemingly empty and shallow surface. The story examines an era and life of vapidity, twisting expectations and pulling the audience in to see the lengths that humans go to realize their ambitions. 

I found myself cringing in awe at chilling images and lines delivered by the talented Keoghan, as well as the funny and endlessly captivating performance of Rosamund Pike, playing Felix’s mother. Alison Oliver, playing Felix’s sister, also delivers an impressive performance, with an intimate and pivotal monologue that anybody who has watched the film will remember. Every shot in this is stunning, created by the cinematographer, Linus Sandgren, winner of Best Cinematography for La La Land— one of my personal favorite films. I found beauty within the visuals, the wonderful soundtrack, and most importantly within the substance of the film. It is difficult to not find yourself laughing, or gasping at least once at Fennell’s production.

While the film has its flaws, including some characters’ storylines not being fully resolved, I find that it contributes to its charm. It is valuable to sometimes rely on the suspension of disbelief to fully immerse oneself in a film.

I recommend this film to people who appreciate dark comedy and twisted storylines. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, and even I found myself trying to look away, although unable due to my immersion in the masterfully crafted visuals. 

I think this is a standout film amidst the many releases this fall, and definitely will stay in your mind for a while, making you ask questions or examine the psychology behind it. 

I will not spoil Saltburn further, as it truly is a picture that one must fully experience without any plot expectations. All I can say for now, is that one should expect a shocking final needle-drop.

Saltburn directed by Emerald Fennell; Rated R; Runtime 127 minutes; In theaters.

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