‘Saltburn’ Review: A Shocking Erotic Queer Comedy to Start 2024 With!


English writer-director Emerald Fennel is back, yet again with her claws sunk deep into the twisted realities of a savage world. The chilling thriller ‘Saltburn’ is the Oscar-winning director’s sophomore venture, after her extremely successful feature debut ‘Promising Young Woman’. The movie puts a savage twist on the 1999 adaptation of Anthony Minghella’s of Patricia Highsmith’s novel novel by the name, The Talented Mr. Ripley.

This queasy spectacle makes one sick to the stomach with its squirm-inducing visuals, slashing societal norms left and right, leaving behind very little to the imagination. As her genius slowly unravels the chaos hidden beneath shrouds of surreal, misty decadence, Fennel takes audiences on a twisted odyssey through the gilded cages of British aristocracy. Saltburn is sweet relief from the cookie-cutter narratives of trendy Western cinema, which more than often is oversaturated with sappy romances, bland chick flicks and overdone Marvel sequels.

A Deeper Dive into the Nasty Ridges of ‘Saltburn’

‘Saltburn’ plunges us into the world of Oliver Quick (The Banshees of Inisherin Oscar nominee, Barry Keoghan), a scholarship student at Oxford whose envy towards the wealthy Catton family burns grows like a gnawing hunger. Lured by their opulent facade, Oliver slithers into their lives, becoming a chameleon reflecting their desires at them in a grotesquely distorted mirror.

A typical weirdo misfit, a signature of Fennel, arrives as a freshman and sets his sights on the almost royal God of the campus, disgustingly rich and too perfect Felix Catton, played by Jacob Elordi, who was last seen as. Oliver finds himself wrapped in a web of depraved fixation, and an undeniable thirst, which triggers the onset of a slow sociopathic race to become Felix himself.

Oliver encounters his first pawn in the form of Farleigh Start (Archie Madekwe), the less blessed member of the shining aristocratic Catton family. What starts as a social infiltration, with its schemes reminding us of the Oscar-winning movie Parasite’s narrative, turns into a perverted trickster’s masterplan. The repulsion one develops towards each character is worth praise. In each scene, you would find yourself bracing your fragile mind for whatever harrowing visual might come next.

Theatre Royal

“I wasn’t in love with him. But did I love him?” a suit-clad Oliver muses. Oliver and Felix party their way into an intensely homoerotic boyish friendship. When the former’s father tragically dies, it’s only right that Felix invites him to his family’s sprawling country estate, Saltburn, where the entire family greets him: Elsbeth and Sir Catton (Rosamund Pike and Richard E. Grant), sister Venetia (Alison Oliver), suspicious cousin Farleigh (Archie Madekwe), and Pamela (a hilarious but briefly-seen Carey Mulligan).

What follows suit is a sexually charged summer filled with debauchery set against a sleazy indie English countryside.

A Stupendous Side Cast

The Cattons, with Rosamund Pike, The Gone Girl star as the hilarious character of Felix’s mother, Elspeth, and Richard E. Grant as Felix’s sweetly shallow father, are fan favourites. She’s a gossipmonger, be it a wealthy one, who tends to get carried away with her tales. Her crude confessions leave the audience thinking that the rich can afford everything but a second to think before they speak. Her delivery of the line, “She’d do anything for attention”, followed by Oliver’s startling compliment leaves spectators with chills. With her cutting British sense of humour and sinisterly beautiful cruelty, she slowly ushers in eager viewers of the movie.


Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman’s Oscar-nominated leading lady, reunites with Fennell to play a quirky friend of the Catton family. Despite her short role, her humorous punchlines and reactions contributed to the comic element of the self-aware comedy.


Academy Award nominee Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) adds further flavour as the family’s oblivious but occasionally spunky patriarch.


Archie Madekwe plays one of the less highlighted Catton cousins, at the bottom of his rank. He is excited to take part in ostracizing Oliver, but what he doesn’t know is that he isn’t the Queen piece in this game of chess, but just another pawn in Oliver’s version.


Barry Keoghan: The Perfect Lead For Saltburn


Barry Keoghan is one of the most exciting actors currently in the industry. Dowdy young Oliver Is undertaken by this eclectic aristocratic family, and the two worlds collide. Barry has built quite a reputation for himself, despite his fair share in conventional performances, his roles in The Killing of a Sacred Deer and American Animals have displayed his unique capability to give the creeps while maintaining an anti-hero image.

Keoghan manages to keep his strangeness subtle, which is not easy in scenes like the one where he slurps bathwater. To be able to play such a complex character while having the entire movie’s plot revolve around himself, simultaneously humping a dead friend’s grave is no small task. At the end of the movie, Oliver dances naked to Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder on the Dancefloor”, finally being his free-spirited self.

Concluding with Drawbacks

Fennel as a director by virtue is an entertainer and her work in Saltburn is no different. It is designed to be blasphemous, to provoke and instigate. It is uncomfortably seductive. The profane narrative is carried by stellar lead and supporting performances and a lavish green estate as the backdrop of utter debauchery. The dreamy visuals from Oscar-winning “La La Land” cinematographer Linus Sandgren invite us to indulge ourselves in this lust fest.


It is the ending, unfortunately, that the director has fumbled. The ambiguity was the very essence of the movie ‘Saltburn’, but the lingering 10-minute-long monologue reveals the internal turmoil and schemes of the lead character. The tower of tantalizing suspense comes tumbling down, leaving viewers a tad bit disappointed. Spectators would have much rather had the movie leave a little more to the imagination, but the over-explanation spoils the overall potency of the story.

But despite such holes in the movie’s plot and script, the cast has lifted it above and beyond the boundaries of good cinematography. With the overall reception of the movie being positive, ‘Saltburn’ is on the steady path to the cult-classic status it should deservedly have.

1 thought on “‘Saltburn’ Review: A Shocking Erotic Queer Comedy to Start 2024 With!”

  1. Pingback: Jacob Elordi's 2024 Assault Case: Euphoria Star Involved In Police Investigation, Everything You Need To Know - Newzertainment

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