Saltburn (2023) Review: A Promising Start That Loses Its Way in a Sea of Depravity

by Ebelin Morales

You’ve probably heard the name Jacob Elordi more times than you’d like these past few weeks—and for good reason, too! Yes, I’m adding him to my collection of favorite cute celebrity white boys next to Austin Butler and Logan Lerman. No, I will not be taking any questions at this time.

Jacob Elordi plays Felix Catton in the new thrilling and disturbing film Saltburn (2023), the story of a sick and twisted student named Oliver Quick, played by Barry Koeghan, who becomes obsessed with and befriends the popular guy at Oxford only to ruin the lives of him and his family. Although I enjoyed sitting through cinematic shots of Jacob Elordi partying on rooftops and imagining myself as one of the rich kids parading around their gorgeous family estate, I thought this movie left a lot to be desired in terms of its storyline.

I thought this movie was a mixture of The Roommate, Parasite, and Joker. In other words, it tried to mix the ideas of an obsessed person who both idolizes and hates someone, tries to infiltrate the lives of a rich family, and has delusions of grandeur. An interesting mix, for sure, with fantastic potential, and the first half of the movie sets these ideas up very well! We get to know all of our characters—mostly a group of stuck-up rich kids too concerned with appearances—and we get to see Felix and Oliver’s friendship blossom beautifully and seemingly genuinely. It’s sweet, it’s wholesome, it’s exciting. It even hints at a romance between the two. Then things take a disturbing turn when Ollie stays with Felix’s rich family.

Ollie’s obsession with Felix grows more depraved as the days pass, and people in Ollie’s life keep warning him that Felix will “discard him” when he gets bored (which is never really hinted at through Felix’s behavior, strangely). Ollie ignores this of course and keeps trying to blend in with the family, failing miserably at times, being successful with others. We realize how superficial and privileged the Catton family is, we see Ollie do creepy and weird things to Felix’s stuff, and just as you think his obsession will turn deadly… Ollie starts emotionally manipulating the rest of the family. OK, interesting plot pivot, I thought. Perhaps Ollie will tear Felix against his own family so he can have him all to himself. How scary! But it’s here where I lost interest.

More weird depraved stuff happens, more partying, more manipulation, and a lot of confusion as to where this plot is going at this point. Now the big plot twist: Ollie was lying about his terrible past and actually lived a pretty good home life! Felix is betrayed, oh no! A dramatic scene ensues with very corny dialogue and confusing line delivery (Felix: “Of course I know ye. You turn my blood ice cold) (Was this meant to be a romantic line? Like, “ice cold” in a good way or bad way?). Ollie is ashamed and weeps to Felix at his birthday party about how much he loves him (even though he actually hates him for being rich, which makes no sense because he came from a good home life and Felix was also always really nice to him when people were being mean or unfair to him). Then BOOM Felix dies. We don’t know how until the end and, yes, Ollie kills him. You would think this is the end of the movie, but then Ollie proceeds to eliminate the rest of the family as part of a long plot to stay with the family’s estate. Which again, kind of a shallow motivation in my opinion. And finally, the movie ends with a big villain speech from Ollie to the one remaining Catton family member and Ollie dances in their mansion naked, Joker style.

All in all, I give Saltburn a 5/10. The movie implies plot directions that don’t exist, fails to deliver on fantastic concepts, has confusing dialogue at times, unlikeable characters (besides Felix), and overall just falls a bit flat for me. But hey, I’m not a movie critic. What did you think of Saltburn? Let us know!

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