The comedic thriller “Saltburn,” released in late 2023 and directed by Oscar winner Emerald Fennell, has left an indelible mark on audiences with its intricate and unexpected conclusion. Fennell, renowned for her storytelling prowess, takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride through the intricacies of cross-class friendship, power dynamics, and shocking revelations within the opulent confines of the Saltburn mansion.
Unraveling the Complex Friendship of Oliver and Felix
At the core of the narrative lies the evolving friendship between Oliver (Barry Keoghan) and Felix (Jacob Elordi), originally forged during their time at Oxford. Oliver, ostensibly grappling with financial challenges, confides in Felix about his parents’ alleged battle with addiction. However, as the storyline progresses, Felix unravels the tapestry of lies carefully spun by Oliver.
The Betrayal Unfolds: Oliver’s Deceptive Birthday Revelation
The turning point emerges during Oliver’s birthday celebration at Saltburn, where Felix discovers the truth and grapples with a sense of betrayal. Subsequent events unfold within the estate’s maze, culminating in a subtle argument, during which Oliver hands Felix a bottle of champagne and abruptly departs. The repercussions are severe, as Felix is discovered lifeless the following day, triggering a chain reaction of tragic occurrences.
The Grim Cascade of Deaths
Following Felix’s demise, the Catton family endures a rapid succession of tragedies. Venetia, Felix’s sister, meets a tragic end, and their father, Sir James, succumbs shortly after. Elspeth, the mother, takes an unexpected turn in fate as she rekindles a relationship with Oliver after a chance encounter at a coffee shop.
Oliver’s Machiavellian Scheme Unveiled
The narrative takes a dark turn as it unveils Oliver’s meticulous orchestration of deaths to secure the inheritance of Saltburn. Shocking revelations include poisoning Felix through champagne, manipulating Venetia’s suicide, and suffocating Elspeth after assuming control of the estate. Flashbacks expose Oliver’s calculated actions, such as slashing Felix’s bike tires before their official meeting.
However, uncertainties persist. The origin of Elspeth’s sickness remains unclear, and the extent of Oliver’s involvement in Sir James’ demise remains shrouded in mystery.
The Naked Dance: A Symbolic Culmination
The climax features Oliver’s audacious, completely naked dance around the Saltburn mansion to Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s 2001 hit “Murder on the Dance Floor.” This bold scene symbolizes Oliver’s ownership and triumph, an unbridled expression of confidence in claiming the estate as his own.
Barry Keoghan, embodying Oliver, describes the dance as an act of ownership and confidence, symbolizing the character’s unapologetic claim over Saltburn. Fennell underscores the scene’s importance, noting that the nude dance was crucial for depicting Oliver’s post-coital triumph—a complex dance with the devil that both repulses and elicits a peculiar sense of sympathy from the audience.
Conclusion: “Saltburn” – A Cinematic Masterpiece of Complexity and Triumph
In conclusion, “Saltburn” stands as a cinematic masterpiece intricately weaving a tale of friendship, betrayal, and calculated machinations. Fennell’s directorial prowess shines as she navigates the complexities of human relationships, power dynamics, and the unforeseen consequences of unbridled ambition.