REVIEW : A summer in ‘Saltburn’ !

Streaming platforms are spoiling us for the end of the year, especially Netflix with their latest releases “Leave the World Behind” and “Rebel Moon“, which were the subject of our last two reviews. But now it’s Amazon’s turn to offer us their latest gem: “Saltburn”. Already out in the U.S. and U.K. for some time, the film debuts in France exclusively on Prime Video this Friday December 22. Here’s our review:

The film follows Oliver Quick (played by Barry Keoghan) as he joins Oxford University in the mid-2000s. A nerd, badly-dressed scholar, he’s uncomfortable and lost among the golden youth to whom he doesn’t belong. Condemned to staring from afar at parties to which he’s not invited, Oliver becomes obsessed with the campus Apollo, the charismatic Felix Catton (played by Jacob Elordi). Felix takes the shy boy under his wing, and Oliver tries his best to fit in with the university’s most popular students. When classes come to an end, Felix invites his friend to spend the summer at his family manor in Saltburn. Oliver discovers the Catton’s luxurious home, with its maze of rooms and its many servants living in an extravagant atmosphere. Like Oliver, the audience meets Felix’s parents, Elspeth (Rosamund Pike) and Sir James (Richard E. Grant), as well as his sister and their cousin. The summer can finally begin, marked by decadence, lust and drama…

British writer-director Emerald Fennell is not a novice. Emerald Fennell, who won an Oscar for Best Screenplay for “Promising Young Woman” in 2020, also wrote and directed “Saltburn“. She made some bold choices, especially for some provocative scenes, which have not left Internet users indifferent and have already caused quite a buzz.

The plot is pretty basic: an indecently oversized manor house lost in the English countryside, inhabited by a family of eccentric ultra-privileged people whom we discover through the eyes of an ordinary young man. But you haven’t seen anything yet… The film is a kind of sensual thriller, focusing on the ambiguous friendship between Oliver and Felix. Throughout, the tension between the characters rises little by little, leaving the viewer speechless as events progress. In this “old money” universe, we flirt with the transgressive and play with the morbid.

The film’s charm also comes from its stylish aesthetic, where each sequence is more beautiful than the previous one, thanks to carefully chosen sets and costumes. The whole movie is accompanied by a well-chosen soundtrack, which has brought back a number of titles from the 2000s. Moreover, Barry Keoghan is outstanding in his role, making it hard for the viewer to look away for a single second, even during the most disturbing scenes. In other words, there’s never a dull moment.

Finally, the film may be criticized for its lack of finesse, but this satire knows how to hit the nail on the head. Definitely not the kind of film to watch with the family at Christmas, but an experience for a warned and not too sensitive audience.