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  • Gareth Crook

Saltburn (2023) - 9/10

Right from the get go, this feels like a melting pot of slick production, razor sharp wit and genuinely engaging characters. Oliver (Barry Keoghan) arrives at Oxford University. He’s geeky, a bit awkward, not a natural socialiser. Doesn’t fit in with the old boys club. Unlike Farleigh (Archie Madekwe), who instantly impresses Professor Ware (Reece Shearsmith) with his family connections. Oliver is no push over though, but he’s lonely and the only lad who talks to him is a bit intense. There’s a ray of hope though. Felix (Jacob Elordi). More of an obsession really. He’s clearly taken with him, whether it’s love, lust or simple admiration. Felix is popular. Handsome… and a nice bloke. That’s rare right? God I hope he’s nice. Oliver has got here on merit. He’s not rich, not had a leg up like the rest. You want him to succeed, be happy, be treated well. To a killer indie noughties soundtrack, Oliver is shunned and ridiculed, shown compassion and love, all before we hit the half hour mark. It’s a nippy pace. Like we’re trying to fit a life story in to two hours. Maybe we are, a condensed one or a pivotal moment. Oxford done for the summer, Oliver isn’t keen to return home, ever. So Felix invites him to his place, Saltburn. It’s not a surprise to find it’s a bloody castle, but I am surprised to find that Felix’s parents are Rosanund Pike and Richard E. Grant! They are pompous, ghastly and rather amusing. Oliver’s “fucking hell” response to the whole thing is spot on, but does he yet see the whole picture? Do we!? Class structure and social dynamics are at the forefront but there’s a sinister underbelly teasing beneath. Keoghan has been brilliant in everything I’ve seen him in so far, but no more so than here. Everyone is brilliant though. From Felix’s sister Venetia (Alison Oliver) to the stoic  butler Duncan (Paul Rhys). Saltburn is shrouded in untold truths and hidden desires. Keoghan portrays this magnificently, with direction from Emerald Fennell, it’s a masterfully created world of romantic lies, repressed emotion, manipulation, hedonism and danger.



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