It is a common point in the experiences of many bisexual people that, when they like a specific woman (or man), they begin to see that they also like women (or men), they ask themselves “but really?” I like it? Do I want to be like her or do I want to fuck with her?” And not just in bisexuals; We are talking about a question closely associated with homoeroticism in general, a question to which, you are supposed to answer A or B. But, as in many other questions, the answer is not A nor is it B. The protagonist of ‘Saltburn’ In fact, I would respond with a resounding “BOTH.”
Emerald Fennell has taken a considerable leap in status in recent years. As an actress she wasn’t doing bad, perhaps you saw her in ‘The Danish Girl’ or ‘The Crown’, but she has ended up earning respect behind the cameras, with the Oscar for the screenplay of ‘A Promising Woman’ (her directorial debut) which definitely put her on the map. ‘A Promising Woman’ was a film with a great premise, great scenes and many failures, and her return with ‘Saltburn’, which Amazon Prime Video has just released in our country, once again has those three characteristics.
These days I have read something like “what a shame that director Emerald Fennell has had to work again with that screenwriter called Emerald Fennell”, and the joke is not without reason, even if that Oscar was for best screenplay. On this occasion, the Englishwoman tells us the story of Oliver, a lower-class boy who in the 00s manages to study at Oxford thanks to the combination of a scholarship and zero social life, and who there becomes obsessed with Felix, the handsome son of a filthy rich family. Fennell, in fact, does not hesitate to show us how filthy rich they are, and this is helped by the cinematography of Linus Sandgren (who has, among others, ‘La La Land’): we are as overwhelmed as Oliver is. first time entering the mansion. But “disgustingly” is not an adverb used lightly: the director speaks of something as visceral as envy, and as earthly as desire… so close to each other for Oliver.
It has been said that ‘Saltburn’ is the dirtiest movie of the year, or in recent years, and there are even people saying that “they have never seen anything like this”, and I disagree there; In fact, it seems to me to be one of the points where Fennell is weak. Like in that ‘Buenafuente’ sketch where Malena Gracia said “I’m really hot, oh, I look like hehe, do I look like that?”, ‘Saltburn’ is more worried about looking slutty than being one. Of course, moments like the one in the bathtub or the one with the vampire are pigs (I don’t think the third one you’re thinking of is intended to be sexy but shady), but it seems to me that the sex-negative panorama of current cinema is more influential, in which anything The fact that it comes out of there draws powerful attention. For this reason, ‘Saltburn’ draws attention both in those more graphic moments and in the construction of an erotic atmosphere: there is more sexual tension in the sequence of Oliver and Felix smoking in the room than in the seven seasons of ‘Elite’.
The thing is that ‘Saltburn’ then suffers from desire as with other themes: it stands out more for isolated sequences than for the story itself, which even at times lacks narrative coherence. Barry Keoghan is spectacular as Oliver, and should be a serious contender for the Best Actor Oscar, but his merit is even greater considering how blurred the character is at times. Rosamund Pike has made us fall in love again as she did in Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’; However, his character (not his interpretation) is based more on one-liners than on consistency, and something similar happens with those of Alison Oliver, Archie Madekwe, Richard E. Grant and the appearance of Carey Mulligan . The simplicity of Jacob Elordi’s has more of an excuse, because we can understand it within the 24/7 sexualization that Fennell intends to make of it. In general, there is a strange tone between the parody (from very early on, remember that tutoring with the teacher), the thriller nineties erotica and the attempt to make a social criticism with ‘Brideshead Revisited’, ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ and even ‘Theorem’ among its references, but the set remains quite empty.
‘Saltburn’ is very colorful and entertaining, and its soundtrack will delight any music lover: in addition to the original songs by Anthony Willis and the gag with ‘Common People’, the film features Arcade Fire, MGMT, Ladytron, The Killers , Bloc Party, Cold War Kids and, of course, THAT ending with Sophie Ellis-Bextor. But you can’t help but feel that, when the party is over, there’s little left to scratch, despite all the visual display we’ve seen, and all the noise about how heavy this movie was. If you remember, when Verónica Forqué said “how heavy you are” in the ‘Kika’ sequence to which this headline belongs, Rossy de Palma responded “I’m authentic, lady.” And I don’t know if ‘Saltburn’ can say the same: there are very good ideas, there are shots that are amazing, there is a completely dedicated protagonist and, yes, there are provocations. But there doesn’t seem to be a background behind all those isolated things, and many are lost along the way.