Stereoactive Presents: ‘Saltburn’ // a movie discussion

Barry Keoghan stars in Emerald Fennell’s follow-up to ‘Promising Young Woman.’

Stereoactive Presents:  ‘Saltburn’ // a movie discussion
Promo art for 'Saltburn'
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J. McVay and Charles Hinshaw discuss the second film written and directed by Emerald Fennell. Saltburn stars Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Alison Oliver, and Archie Madekwe and is distributed by Amazon MGM Studios and available on Prime Video.

Since we recorded this a couple of months after the film’s release and even longer since it first began playing at festivals and reviews of it started coming out, it may be worth mentioning that there seem to be a lot of critics who do not like Saltburn. In fact, I pretty much avoided watching the film until now because so many critics I follow had so little good to say about it. 

So, perhaps my low expectations played a part in this, but I found it mostly pretty compelling to watch. I mean, it’s pure pop melodrama trash playing at being deep and sophisticated, and I think another couple of passes on the screenplay may have leveled it up from that to either the true satire or social commentary it strives to be – something more along the lines of The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Rules of the Game, Gosford Park, A Place in the Sun, or something more recent like Parasite. But the talent and craft brought to the film from other quarters certainly elevate it into something more than it would be otherwise.

Barry Keoghan not only swings for the fences as the class interloper at the heart of the film, but he also more than proves his ability to lead a high profile movie with a top notch cast. And whether some of his choices pull you in or make you cringe, it’s impossible to deny his commitment to his character and the themes of the film.

For his part, between this and Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, Jacob Elordi is fast becoming an actor whose presence in a project is going to make me more interested in checking it out. That said, I do wish he had more to do at times in Saltburn – especially after his character, Felix, first shows Keoghan’s Oliver around the estate and introduces him to the other residents, then seems to melt into the background or wholly disappear for quite some time. 

Richard E. Grant and Rosamund Pike, as Felix’s staggeringly British parents, are both bright spots when the film allows them space to shine and Archie Madekwe, as Felix’s cousin Farleigh, certainly does all he can to make his character as unlikable as the script requires.

Add to all that, the striking visuals delivered by the cinematography and production design, and I’m honestly more excited now to see director Emerald Fennell’s next film, than I was after I had mixed feelings about her last one, Promising Young Woman.

Episode Credits:

  • Producer/Host - J. McVay
  • Guests - Charles Hinshaw
  • Music - Hansdale Hsu
  • Produced by Stereoactive Media

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