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Jacob Elordi and Barry Keoghan exude sensuality in Emerald Fennell’s new film



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After “Promising Young Woman” (2021), or “A Girl with Potential”, actress, producer and screenwriter Emerald Fennell returns with her 2nd feature film. “Saltburn” gives us the guarantee that her style as a director is consolidating at a breakneck pace. The new work brings us once again an emphasis on shock, excellent performances beyond the limits of comfort, but also a fragile compromise when it comes to verisimilitude…

The British Emerald Fennel had long been a familiar figure in front of the camera and behind it, as actress, producer and screenwriter, for example in the risky and rewarding series “Killing Eve”. However, it was in 2020 that Fennel entered our radar and never disappeared when he released the first film he wrote and directed. “A Girl with Potential”, starring Carey Mulliganis a no-holds-barred narrative that explores the devastating consequences of ‘rape culture’ in North American universities and which through hyperbole conveys powerful impressions about the insidious and lasting nature of trauma. For this film she was appointed as producer at the Oscar for Best Filmfor Best Achievement and still for Best Original Screenplayhaving taken home this third statuette for its genuinely original and powerful story.

saltburn Amazon Prime Video
The stunning Saltburn estate | © Amazon Content Services LLC

After very busy years, with an Emmy nomination for his performance withCamilla Parker Bowles in “The Crown”, and also a special participation in “Barbie” (2023) as the hilarious Midge, the pregnant Barbie, Fennel returns with another equally bold film, although not as original as “A Girl with Potential”. And although “Saltburn” is a very imperfect film, the desire to create excessive, exacerbated, satirical and unexpected narratives is proving to be a real trend in Fennell’s career. For all of this, we embrace yet another of her creations, once again produced by Margot Robbie and for your LuckyChap Entertainment.

“Saltburn” is a feature film that stimulated our senses and divided our sensibilities. This is a story of ‘Dark Academia’ which begins in Oxford (of course) and progresses in a huge mansion in the English countryside, including a journey back in time to 2006/2007 and an immersion in the current Millennial culture, through joint reading of Harry Potter to the songs in vogue at that period. Filled with nostalgia but also with elements that appeal to the pop culture of the here and now, such as the casting of Jacob Elordiwho at one point even dresses up in a costume at a masquerade ball that brings to mind references to his ‘home’ “Euphoria”, “Saltburn” is a cinema that seems to have been made to respond to certain audience desires. Exchanged for kids, it’s a perfect film for TikTok culture, fueled by Generation Z and partially by the Millennial. It’s full of eye-catching and shocking lines of dialogue that are perfect for mass online sharing and the creation of memes.

Saltburn Jacob Elordi
Jacob Elordi as Felix Catton ©Amazon Studios

With this, we have no intention of saying that “Saltburn” is not cinema, whatever that means. As recent cultural trends demand, this angle of “Dark Academia” (preference for a classic, academic style, focused on the arts, literature and locations associated with top colleges and schools) is visually engaging and effective here. In the opening plan, we immediately see the iconic library of the University of Oxford. From then on we dive into a slightly dark world where the rich and powerful come to this school through nepotism. A culture of private schools and elites imposes itself.

Our protagonist is Oliver or ‘Ollie’ Quick (Barry Keoghanwho precisely in 2023 was nominated for an Oscar for his brilliant appearance in “The Spirits of Inisherin”) a young scholarship holder who has just arrived at University, where he has difficulty adapting to the academic elites. This until he became friends with the handsome and charismatic Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), a rich and extremely popular student. When Felix is ​​receptive to Oliver’s life story, a deep friendship quickly develops between them that ends up leading Ollie to a summer at the Saltburn estate, the majestic mansion of the almost aristocratic Catton family.

Here begins a feverish dream in the form of an unforgettable summer, which is as much a symbol of perfection, yearning, as it is of rot and despair. The feature film is based on conversations that are as uncomfortable as they are delicious, due to the physical representation of desire without limits, by embracing uncomfortable corners of the human mind. Barry Keoghan, who has already given so much of himself, in the best of ways, in films like “The Sacrifice of a Sacred Deer” (2017) or “The Batman” (2022), accesses new levels of disinhibition and surrender.

Barry Keoghan in Emerald Fennell's new film
Barry Keoghan as Oliver Quick | ©Amazon Studios

From his psyche to his corporeality, Keoghan gives himself to ‘Ollie’ Quick without any reservations and once again reinforces his innate talent as one of the greats of British and North American cinema today. Jacob Elordi (who we will be able to see soon in “Priscilla”) also makes it very clear why there is so much fuss around it. Her qualities as a movie star are undeniable and “Euphoria” was just the beginning of an adventure that is expected to be very long. In smaller roles, but also blessed with some irresistible lines, we have Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) and Richard E. Grant (“Memoirs of a Literary Forger”), the parents of the magnetic Felix.

But if this film knows how to inhabit the genre ‘Dark Academia’ skillfully, if it has memorable performances and scenes that will be discussed for some time, and if it was even filmed with care and aesthetic concern, with dramatic angles, and some sequences flooded with a seductive captivating red filter, what’s your problem? What is stopping it from becoming a remarkable creation?

Its narrative progression, of course. “Saltburn” is a perfect platform for Barry Keoghan’s eccentricity and there are several moments that we will not soon forget. It uses music just as well as “Promising Young Woman” and has a final sequence that chooses the perfect melody to announce its resolution. Unfortunately, what is missing is the symbolism and the very real pain that we found in Emerald Fennell’s last film. “Saltburn” doesn’t just ask us to suspend our belief in the real. With its ending and its sequence of events, it asks us to give up entirely on believing that the rules of that world are even close to the rules of our world.

Saltburn on Prime Video
© Amazon Content Services LLC

Furthermore, we also don’t think that Fennell makes much social or political commentary, unlike what happened in her Oscar-winning screenplay. The new creation, once again written and performed solo, It is emptier in its intention. And yes, not all films need to convey big ideas about humanity. Sometimes we can simply be invested in a fun journey. In this case one that goes from disgusting to irresistible with impressive speed. And yes, “Saltburn” is a very entertaining journey. However, even as a satire that suspends reality, it must be admitted that at a certain point logic is thrown out the window. Examining the last act of the film will always end up bringing disappointment in the final product.

But so what, that doesn’t mean that this summer at the Saltburn estate doesn’t have its merits. One giant success at the end of 2023 and Prime Video Portugalwhere it premiered on December 22nd, “Saltburn” was created to generate sharing, debate and strong collective reactions and it will do so.

Saltburn, the Critic

Saltburn 2023 Poster

Movie title: Saltburn

Movie description: Oscar-winning filmmaker Emerald Fennell brings us a twisted story about privilege and desire. Having difficulty finding his place at Oxford University, student Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) is drawn into the world of charming aristocrat Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), who invites him to Saltburn, his eccentric family’s enormous mansion, to spend an unforgettable summer.

Date published: December 28, 2023

Country: USA, UK

Duration: 127′

Author: Emerald Fennell

Director(s): Emerald Fennell

Actor(s): Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Alison Oliver

Genre: Drama, Black Comedy, Thriller

[ More ]


“Saltburn”, with Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi, is inconsistent in all its eccentricity and is characterized by a chaotic, dizzying and hardly credible ending even within its own world. Nevertheless, it offers us a mind-boggling journey, full of unexpected moments and speeches capable of fueling media discourse for weeks. Even if it fails as a cohesive work, it still stands out as a guilty pleasure.


  • Barry Keoghan’s performance deserves all the attention. The actor gives himself to the role in such a way that he accepts doing anything and everything with his mind and particularly his body. One improvised scene in particular (in a cemetery) tells us everything about his talent and the way he inhabited Ollie.
  • The promise Jacob Elordi also continues to solidify and in this film full of queer baiting we have Elordi and Keoghan in perfect harmony and with palpable chemistry. The almost touch will drive anyone crazy, just as Fennell imagined it. When we see Ollie with deer antlers and Felix dressed in angel wings we may even consider the allusions somewhat crude in their direct and brazen component, but this brazen component is precisely what has made “Saltburn” a success.
  • Alison Oliver as Venetia Catton – a fragile, tormented, but also powerful figure, particularly in his last speech. Perhaps this is the character with the most talent in “Saltburn”.


  • Although we can understand that the “Saltburn” arc was thought out by its screenwriter from start to finish, the truth is that hyperbole becomes untenable to a certain point. Certain characters, such as Elspeth Catton by Rosamund Pike, they act in a less than credible way and we cannot accept their motivations. Ollie himself persists as a somewhat fragile mystery.
  • As for the ending, and without sharing too much information, we are unable to accept the explanations given to us for the resolution. Mere fragments of reality must be accepted as an answer to progression. However, if we dismantled them, they would not make sense.
  • Could it be that, all things considered, the dramatic cinematic style and exuberant performances hide a weak and somewhat plastic argument?

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