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About Everything Wiki » Self-Development » Saltburn is an ironic thriller about class inequality and the best role of Barry Keoghan

Saltburn is an ironic thriller about class inequality and the best role of Barry Keoghan

16 Jan 2024, 00:01, parser
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On December 23rd, Emirald Fennel's new film Saltburn was released on the Amazon Prime streaming service. Before that, the film was presented at the Telluride Film Festival, it was released in limited release, but did not make much noise. Only after the appearance on the Web, the new work of the director of "The Girl of Promise" (she won Fennel an Oscar for the original screenplay) turned into one of the most discussed and controversial films of last year.

The thing is that "Saltburn" combines excellent acting and staging with a "gray" morality. But by the end, the story becomes too straightforward and loses its grace.

This is a drama in which there are no positive characters

Oliver (Barry Keoghan) goes to Oxford University on a scholarship. He is smart, but poor, not too handsome and very shy. Therefore, the young man feels like an outcast, communicates without pleasure with the same nerds and looks with envy at the children of the elite having fun. First of all, Felix Catton (the star of "Euphoria" Jacob Elordi) is a tall handsome man from a rich family who is surrounded by friends and fans.

By a happy coincidence, Oliver makes friends with him. Then a tragedy happens in his family, and Felix invites a friend to stay at the Saltburn family estate for the holidays. Once in a privileged but very toxic family, Oliver changes the lives of all its members.

In the 1960s, Pier Paolo Pasolini made the film "Theorem", to which Saltburn explicitly refers. A mysterious guest arrives at an expensive estate, seduces almost all its inhabitants and disappears without a trace. But in Pasolini's parable, the visitor was more of a function—a nameless figure giving impetus to the main events. Saltburn treats this idea more ironically, rather in the spirit of the Oscar-winning "Parasites."

At first it seems that the new painting by Emirald Fennel is even too artless. Oliver is a simple but smart guy who has been traumatized by his parents' problems since childhood. He falls into a seemingly perfect family. But literally from the very first acquaintance it turns out that the Cattons have absorbed literally all the vices.

A toxic pretentious mother rules here, who bluntly declares that she does not like ugly people: Rosamund Pike plays her best negative role since the "Disappeared". There are other strange personalities in the house: hangers-on, libertines and an overly frightening butler. Even the star of "A Promising Girl" Carrie Mulligan looks in an unrecognizable image. All these people are either very unpleasant, or just unhappy and pathetic people.

A shot from the film "Saltburn"

So will naive Oliver correct the rich with his honesty? Will she run away from this debauchery in fear? Or will it reveal the vices of the elite, and it will destroy itself? It's not that simple. Barry Keoghan plays almost his best role in Saltburn — and after all, he had great images in The Killing of the Sacred Deer and The Banshee of Inisherin.

His character is transformed in each subsequent scene: Oliver behaves completely differently with different people, now slavishly obeying, then dominating. By the middle of the film, it will become clear that the viewer does not know anything about this character at all.

Okay, I think we've figured out the joke. In fact, this is a story about naive Felix, the only honest and open inhabitant of Saltburn, who every time becomes a victim of the selfishness of others. But don't even hope for a miracle: it will quickly turn out that such friends are more like toys for him.

There is no division between good and evil in this film. It's just that some people's vices can be more dangerous.

"Saltburn" ironically mixes genres

In 2020, Emirald Fennel, already a well-known screenwriter (she even managed to be the showrunner of the acclaimed series "Killing Eve"), broke into the world of big cinema with "A girl of promise". In addition to the current topic of #metoo, the picture was also surprising in its deceptiveness. For almost half of the running time, it seems to be a romantic comedy, or at least a film about healing from the traumas of the past. That's why the finale looks so tough.

A shot from the film "Saltburn"

In the second full-length work, Fennel tries to pull off the same trick. It turns out not so perfect and smooth, but still exciting. In the same way, the action supposedly starts with the story of falling in love. But it is "allegedly". Now the creator changes one social topic to several others at once, and for greater clarity, she also plays with genres.

"Saltburn" begins as a disturbing drama: Oliver will bluntly say that what is happening at the estate is very similar to Evelyn Waugh's "Return to Brideshead" (if you haven't read the book, you can watch the 2008 film). Gradually, what is happening develops into a detective thriller with references to "The Talented Mr. Ripley", then to "Parasites", while preserving the comedy of the latter.

The only thing that can upset is an overly specific and even intrusive ending. Perhaps "Saltburn" would have left a more pleasant and unusual impression if the viewer had not been told what happened was an accident and what was malicious intent, and in general why everything was happening.

A shot from the film "Saltburn"

But even this can be forgiven, because the film will end not with some kind of morality , but with a two-minute musical scene shot in one frame. Someone will find her stunningly beautiful, someone will find her terribly provocative. But it is she who best reflects the whole message of the author.

"Saltburn" looks like a set of beautiful clips

It is unlikely that you will be able to post the ending of the picture on the social network (whoever saw it will understand). But the whole main part seems to have been originally created in order to cut Saltburn into pieces and share your favorite scenes in TikTok.

The film was even shot with an almost square picture. The rare 1.33:1 aspect ratio is usually used to create the feeling of an old movie — as in "The Lighthouse" by Robert Eggers — or to create a feeling of tightness. Here, it seems to be necessary in order to make it easier to look at the phone without cutting off the wide edges.

A shot from the film "Saltburn"

This does not make the film worse, except that the owners of widescreen TVs will be offended. On the contrary, "Saltburn", being complete in plot, visually seems to consist of many beautiful scenes or even clips for soundtracks from hits zero . It seems to be a standard set: here the characters sunbathe and talk, here the viewer is shown nocturnal moments of passion, a dialogue with his mother in an open space or a birthday party.

But, first of all, each scene is staged very elegantly and not banally. Felix and Oliver's long walk through the huge house, which will be mirrored in the finale, is an amazing exercise in camerawork. It's not for nothing that Oscar-winning Linus Sandgren, who shot "La La Land", "Man on the Moon" and "Babylon" by Damien Chazelle, is behind the camera.

And secondly, Saltburn surprisingly balances on the edge of beauty and disgust. Sexuality in this picture takes the most perverted forms — by the way, Keoghan seems to have improvised one of the most shocking scenes Barry Keoghan says the shocking grave scene in ‘Saltburn’ was tamer in the original script: ‘He wasn’t written to do that’ / Business Insider . Beautiful people seem disgusting, and too huge an estate does not cause any desire to be there: the house does not delight, but presses with its atmosphere.

A shot from the film "Saltburn"

Alas, "Saltburn" is unlikely to repeat the success of "The Hopeful Girl": the film lacks sharpness and surprise. But still, he fulfills his task — this is an aesthetic and at the same time frightening picture of human vices. A story in which you don't feel sorry for anyone and at the same time you feel sorry for everyone. You can love or hate such a movie, but it will not go unnoticed.

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27 Jan 2024, 12:06    0    0
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