Friday, January 5, 2024

Saltburn, much more than a queer thriller


Written and directed by the Oscar-winning director Emerald Fennell, Saltburn tracks the progress of Oliver (Barry Keoghan), an ambitious Oxford scholarship boy who becomes obsessed with Felix (Jacob Elordi), a classmate so posh he barely bothers with consonants. 

Oliver wins Felix’s friendship with acts of kindness and candour but then targets his rich dysfunctional family. The Oxford scenes are fun and nostalgic, but Fennell’s film really blossoms into homoerotic chaos when Oliver arrives at Felix’s majestic family home: Saltburn.

It is here that Oliver spots Felix masturbating in their shared bathtub, then jumps in after his crush has climaxed and left. Many viewers will recognise the way Oliver has fallen hard for Felix, a straight friend who maybe just maybe gives off the odd hint of flirtiness. 

Oliver has also sexual encounters with Felix’s sad sister Venetia (Alison Oliver) and cutting cousin Farleigh (Archie Madekwe), so far, so bi. Whatever you make of Oliver’s sexually ambiguous but abominable behaviour, his journey definitely has a queer-coded edge.

When asked whether it should be viewed as a “queer thriller”, Fennell said “absolutely”, though it’s no more a perfect queer film than a perfect country house film or a perfect film about class. What Saltburn does possess is enough camp chaos and queer-coded weirdness to make it a future cult classic.

Memorable is the last scene where a nude Oliver dances joyously around the country house to the Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s 2001 banger ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’. Fennell says she chose it to soundtrack that scene because “no other song” contains “the evil glee, the sheer fun and the irresistible camp”.

This movie smells an Oscar run, watch the trailers of movie and song below:

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