Saltburn | Review by: Benjamin Garrett


Emerald Fennell set the bar sky high with Promising Young Woman, which is one of the strongest directorial debuts of the past decade. While Saltburn doesn’t quite reach those heights, this provocative sophomore feature cements Fennell as an ambitious filmmaker willing to push the envelope in all the right ways. 

This movie is almost begging to divide audiences, and Fennell doesn’t seem to care. She’s crafted a bold, uncompromising and utterly fascinating character study that doesn’t hold back on shock value. The shocks never come across as novelties with the sole intention of upsetting viewers, though. These twisted moments always serve to enrich the complexity of the characters at the centre of this gothic fable. Is it self-indulgent? Sometimes, but it’s never without thoughtfully calculated intention. 

The cast is absolutely mesmerizing, and will have you falling under their promiscuous spells very quickly. These characters are both sexually liberated and devious, leading to unexpected dynamics. The different types of chemistry and tension between each of them is portrayed wonderfully, and I was always eager to see how their individual motives played out. The cast is lead by a fearless Barry Keoghan in a career best performance, but this really is an ensemble effort. Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, Richard E Grant, Alison Oliver and Archie Madekwe work harmoniously alongside Keoghan and each other, making this twisted family a treat to watch. 

This also happens to be one of the most beautifully shot films of the year, with portrait-like cinematography and gorgeous camera work. Linus Sangren is no stranger to dazzling visuals, having worked on films like La La Land and No Time to Die. The 1:33:1 aspect ratio is perfect for framing every shot, but it’s the outstanding use of colour, light and shadow that truly stands out. 

Saltburn is a dizzying sophomore effort, proving Emerald Fennel to be a filmmaker unafraid of taking bold creative swings. What it lacks in pointed social commentary, it makes up for with deliciously depraved storytelling, breathtaking visuals, and a career best performance from Barry Keoghan. 


Review by: Benjamin Garrett

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