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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

‘Saltburn’ is one of the most delightfully disturbing films of the decade

Though hard to watch, viral film offers stuning visuals, excellent acting.
Oliver+played+by+Barry+Keoghan+in+the+Amazon+film+%E2%80%9CSaltburn.
Amazon Studios
Oliver played by Barry Keoghan in the Amazon film “Saltburn.”

After TikToks of moviegoers’ reactions to “Saltburn” went viral, the psychological thriller/comedy became one of the most popular films of last year.  

Though it could be hard to watch due to its disturbing content, “Saltburn” is a fascinating story of obsession, humor and thrill that had audiences leaving theaters with their jaws dropped. 

The movie is directed by Emerald Fennel, an Academy Award-winning screenwriter known for “Promising Young Woman,” a revenge story of female empowerment. Taking a whole new direction from her previous work, “Saltburn” centers on the supposed friendship between Barry Keoghan’s Oliver Quick, a college student at Oxford, and fellow student Jacob Elordi’s Felix Catton. When Oliver is invited to spend the school break with the Cattons, his obsession, jealousy, manipulation and infatuation with Felix grows. 

It is important to note that the movie went viral for what many consider to be shocking content. With scenes of graphic sexual encounters as well as disturbing forms of manipulation and coercion, this can be too much for some viewers.  

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Not only can the material be hard to watch but there are also long, graphic displays of nudity. However, the content’s uncomfortable nature makes “Saltburn” the movie it is. Without these scenes, “Saltburn” would lose the unique intensity that sets it apart from others in the thriller genre. 

A movie that pulls off such bold subject matter needs convincing performances. Barry Keoghan, who received a Golden Globe nomination for this role, perfectly portrays an estranged college student whose effectiveness as a character depends on dangerous and complicated emotions.

Jacob Elordi shines as Felix, expertly handling a role that requires a demanding range in both comedy and drama. The movie also features stars such as Rosamund Pike, who was also nominated for a Golden Globe, Carey Mulligan and Richard E. Grant.  

They share the screen with Hollywood newcomers Allison Oliver and Archie Madekwe, who have no problem keeping up with the legends beside them. The cast delivers stellar, complex performances that only help to heighten the mysterious, tense undertone. 

One of the biggest highlights of “Saltburn” was the visual style. With settings as magnificent as the Saltburn estate and the University of Oxford, it seems impossible for the production staff to go wrong. However, the camerawork not only captures but elevates the beauty of the film. The directing and cinematography do a fantastic job of keeping the film dynamic and aesthetically pleasing.  

The costume also aids in creating enticing imagery, with fabulous use of color and fabrics that portray not only the essence of “Saltburn” but the characters themselves. Both, tied together with the enchantingly eerie score, deliver an excellent setting for the deranged events to unfold. 

The experimental, artistic nature of the film accomplishes its goal: leaving audiences stunned in a unique, creative way. However, the film’s intention is unclear. Though it can potentially be a character study displaying how infatuation can lead to destruction, the film does not go deep enough into Oliver’s life to tell us where his obsession stemmed from.  

The film would benefit from a different approach to explaining the plot. Instead of spelling out the twist at the end, leaving the audience nothing to contemplate after the movie, the storyline should dive deeper into Oliver’s preoccupation with Felix. Exploring Felix’s character and Oliver’s motives is necessary to achieve the character study the movie deserves.  

 Though not meant for those easily bothered by disturbing and explicit sexual content, “Saltburn” is an intriguing, entertaining and complex piece of art that keeps audiences’ eyes glued to the screen the entire way through. 

 “Saltburn” is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 

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