“Saltburn,” set to release in the UK on November 22, 2023, has garnered a spectrum of reviews, painting a picture of a film that is as divisive as it is audacious. Critics generally praise the film for its boldness and standout performances, particularly noting the contributions of Barry Keoghan and Rosamund Pike. However, opinions diverge significantly when it comes to the movie’s thematic substance and narrative execution.
Emerald Fennell’s direction is lauded for its “wickedly subversive, exquisitely twisty character study” (Serena Seghedoni, AWFJ.org), and the film itself is described as a “wildly entertaining multigenre extravaganza” by Hamish Calvert from Cultured Vultures. Robbie Collin of the Daily Telegraph (UK) champions the movie’s “sheer, nude-bungee-jumping-level fearlessness,” likening its disruptive energy to British cinema’s provocative eras.
Yet, not all critics are charmed. Anna McKibbin of Paste Magazine refers to the movie as a “sequined and sticky mess,” pointing out the overwhelming nature of its plot twists. This sentiment is echoed by Jeff Nelson from Guy at the Movies, who finds fault in the “underwhelming storytelling and drab commentary.” Alistair Harkness from the Scotsman further criticizes the film for lacking originality, suggesting it offers nothing new for those familiar with works like “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “The Favourite.”
Some reviewers, including Nicholas Barber from BBC.com, acknowledge the film’s perceived shortcomings but argue for its enjoyment value when viewed as “a lurid pulp fantasy rather than a penetrating satire.” Others, like Demetrios Matheou from The Arts Desk, express disappointment, feeling that “Saltburn” misses the sharp societal critique present in Fennell’s earlier work, “Promising Young Woman.”
Despite its polarizing storyline and themes, there’s consensus around the film’s acting prowess. Christopher James from The Film Experience highlights the “committed cast,” and Katie Smith-Wong of Flick Feast commends Keoghan’s “physicality and on-screen intensity.” The ensemble’s effort is appreciated by Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian, who recognizes that “the entire cast give it their very professional all.”
In summary, “Saltburn” emerges as a cinematic experience that refuses to be ignored. Whether through its vibrant style, chaotic narrative, or fearless audacity, it prompts strong reactions and lays the groundwork for fervent discussions upon its release.
It should be noted, however, that the forthcoming movie, Saltburn, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the fabulous seaside town of Saltburn (aka Saltburn-by-the-Sea) which is a jewel in Yorkshire’s impressive crown.