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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Take a wild ride with ‘Saltburn’

Peyton McKenzie

When I walked into the theater to see “Saltburn,” I expected a coming-of-age story between two best friends who spent the summer together. What I didn’t expect was an incredibly unsettling movie that would become one of my favorites.

“Saltburn” follows Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) and Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), two students at the University of Oxford. Quick is the shy and quiet type; he has trouble making friends and doesn’t quite fit in. He admires Catton from afar before they end up becoming close friends.

Catton comes from an incredibly wealthy family. He was raised on an estate and hangs out with people who look down upon those less fortunate, like Quick. Catton’s friends make fun of Quick for getting into Oxford on a scholarship, but that doesn’t stop him from taking Quick under his wing. Catton’s cousin, Farleigh (Archie Madekwe), especially looks down on him.

Farleigh’s relation to Catton is the only reason they’re in the same social circle. He constantly pokes fun at Quick for being lonely and less fortunate, but he’s somewhat of an outcast himself.

Even though he’s related to an upper-class British family, Farleigh was raised in the U.S. by his mother who still lives there, and is nowhere near as wealthy as the Cattons. The Cattons pay for Farleigh’s tuition to Oxford and he spends the summer with them, simply because he has no other choice.

Quick explains that his home life isn’t great and that he can’t go home for the summer, leading Catton to invite him to spend a few months with him at his estate, Saltburn. Catton’s parents, Sir Nicholas (Richard E. Grant) and Lady Elspeth (Rosamund Pike), welcome Quick into their home and treat him like family.

As the summer goes on, Quick becomes obsessed with Catton and his family. He sneaks around to watch their every move and feeds them lies to stay close to them. Every lie he tells and action he makes begins to unfold at his birthday party, a huge affair with hundreds of guests. His elaborate plan to work his way to the top of the family finally begins to pan out.

I was on the edge of my seat for the entire movie, especially when Quick snuck out to the garden to meet with Catton’s sister Venetia (Alison Oliver), or when he was staring at Catton in the bathroom through a crack in the doorway. I never knew what was going to happen next.

Keoghan’s performance was bone-chilling. Just when I thought something was too extreme, he went and did it, and he did it in a way that had my skin crawling. He takes the off-putting manner of his character and turns him into a protagonist through pure charm. The way Keoghan portrays the sob story of Quick’s home life made me want to root for him, but as everything played out I was completely surprised, and somewhat disgusted.

Normally I’m not one for graphic scenes, including sexual content or blood, but with this movie they felt necessary. Some scenes did make me uncomfortable, like when Quick snuck into Farleigh’s room or when he’s mourning over a grave in quite an interesting way, but I couldn’t look away. Keoghan’s performance throughout the more graphic scenes served a greater purpose than just making the viewers uneasy – he proved the true insanity of his character.

I enjoyed seeing Elordi act in a more tame role than his recent work. Unlike his role as Nate Jacobs in HBO’s “Euphoria,” Catton was a sweet and outgoing character that genuinely cared about his friend. Aside from “The Kissing Booth,” I’ve never seen Elordi in a role that didn’t have him playing someone toxic. It was a nice change of pace to see him portray an empathetic and caring person, especially after his recent role as Elvis Presley in “Priscilla.”

Something I disliked was the misuse of Farleigh’s character, as he felt more like a filler. He served little purpose other than to make Quick feel less than everyone else. Farleigh could’ve made for a good antagonist, especially since he was only seen as just the American cousin who had nowhere else to go and nothing more important to do.

When Quick comes into the family, Farleigh sees it as another outsider trying to take his already established place. I feel like more could’ve been done with that, such as having him take revenge, instead of just having him make fun of Quick from time to time.

One of my favorite scenes occurred towards the end, just as Quick’s plan begins to fall into place. Sir Nicholas yells while Venetia is pouring wine into a cup but she doesn’t stop, even when it begins to overflow.

The rest of the table tries to play it off. The camera quickly cuts from person to person in a way that made my heart race, along with the red lighting and sound effects from what’s happening outside. It was an incredibly unsettling scene that added to the whole severity of the situation.

“Saltburn” was an incredible movie that left me in complete shock. Every scene came together to create an ending that had me picking my jaw up off the floor. Before this, I never had any interest in psychological thrillers, but the whirlwind of emotions I felt while watching has made “Saltburn” one of my new favorite movies and I strongly encourage everyone to go see it.

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Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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