Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

“Saltburn” review: Sacrificing substance in the name of style

Sophia Maxim

One of the most distressing things to witness as an audience member is the craft of phenomenal actors watered down by means of mediocre writing. Among other complaints, this was the fundamental issue I had with Emerald Fennell’s second feature film, “Saltburn.”

Set in 2006, the film follows Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan), a recluse student at the University of Oxford. In due course, Oliver meets fellow Oxford attendee Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), who eventually invites Oliver to stay at his family estate for the holidays, considering Oliver’s apparent situation back home.

I’ll admit that I had high hopes for “Saltburn,” given that Fennell managed to score the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for her debut feature, “Promising Young Woman” (while it was nothing to write home about, it wasn’t as predictable as “Saltburn”). However, my expectations were far from exceeded.

First and foremost, I fear the film would’ve been an absolute dumpster fire had it not been for the director of photography, Linus Sandgren. The avant-garde scenery and attention to visual detail was, without a doubt, the film’s strong suit. As previously mentioned, I cannot say the same for Fennell’s writing.

A decent amount of dialogue in “Saltburn” was the type of cringe that might’ve catered to millennials and older gen-Xers that indulged in fan fiction and Wattpad…nine or ten years ago. I’d argue that Elspeth (Rosamund Pike), Felix’s mother, had the most memorable lines. Even so, it was not enough to make the film anything more than vanilla.

Fennell languidly emulates themes and concepts existent in other films and media, then attempts to market it as never before seen transgression. While it appeased some audiences, that wasn’t the case for me. The characters had banal depth and minimal complexity; they served more as embellishments to the plot rather than amplifiers.

It almost seems like Fennell thought to herself, “wait, let me turn my experience at Oxford into a sorry-excuse spoof of cult-classics like ‘Theorem’ and ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley.’”

The other few positives besides the cinematography were the soundtrack, with reawakened hits like “Murder on the Dancefloor” and “Perfect (Exceeder),” along with Jacob Elordi, who was most definitely a sight for these sore eyes.

I also found it rather guileful and contradictory on Fennell’s behalf to make her debut feature center around redeeming oneself from the shackles of sexual assault, only to follow with a sophomore release densely saturated with it. Ultimately, “Saltburn” was not my cup of tea.

“Saltburn” is now available on Prime Video.

2/5 stars

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About the Contributors
Mia Oliva
Mia Oliva, Life and Times Editor
Mia Oliva is the Life & Times Editor of The Maroon. She has also served as Reviews Editor in previous semesters. Mia is a journalism senior with an English minor. Apart from the Maroon, Mia spends her time reading and writing, as well as watching movies and observing pop culture. Mia can be reached at [email protected].
Sophia Maxim
Sophia Maxim, Editor-in-Chief
Sophia Maxim is a multimedia journalist and designer from Atlanta, GA. She is The Maroon’s incoming Editor-in-Chief and previously served as Managing Editor for Print and Design Chief. She is a visual communication junior with a design minor. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the city, listening to podcasts, and collaborating on creative projects. Sophia can be reached at [email protected].

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    JudyFeb 2, 2024 at 12:31 am

    Agreed! Exceptionally worded!!