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Flicks With Nicki – Saltburn

Decatur Editor's Pick Flicks With Nicki Trending

Flicks With Nicki – Saltburn

Photo: Alison Oliver, Barry Keoghan, and Jacob Elordi in Saltburn (2023). Photo by Chiabella James © Amazon Content Services LLC.

Prep school thrillers bring to mind “A Separate Peace,” “The Great Gatsby,” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” It starts with the popular boy. He is followed by the awkward underling who watches him with longing, jealousy, and disgust.

“Saltburn” gives us Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), handsome and ultrarich. A tall drink of bathwater. Our awkward sidekick is Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan). He is short and weird, and he knows it, yet he persists in his odd quest to befriend Felix. We start at Hogwarts, also known as Oxford University. It is 2006, and Oliver is a scholarship student waiting for the wealthy kids to notice him. In a twist of fate, Oliver helps Felix and a reluctant friendship begins. Felix invites Oliver to his home because Oliver doesn’t have one.

Here, we move to Downton Abbey, the aptly named manor called Saltburn. That’s how we feel as the viewer. Salty. Burned. 

Oliver navigates the Catton family, including sister, parents, and house guests that won’t leave. They are all horrible people. Rich horrible. Selfish horrible. Indifferent to humankind, horrible. Saltburn, like the Overlook Hotel or Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. As a view, we feel the Saltburn. Wounded, then drenched in salt. Then wounded again. It is a horror movie about beautiful people and beautiful places.

Oliver is horribly needy, and Felix is horribly spoiled and jealous. There are secrets to be uncovered. I wish I could say any of them were surprising. They weren’t. I would equally recommend watching and avoiding this film. It isn’t a pleasant romp into the English countryside; it is a psychological thriller that lacks thrills.

I enjoy a homoerotic tale of friendship and betrayal just as much as the next girl, but y’all, this movie is too much. The characters try to out-vile each other, from dinner parties to karaoke and sex. I am in no way squeamish about sex, oral sex, masturbation, menstrual cycles, or murder. But I am now freaked out about bathwater, rooms named by color, and freshly dug graves.

Writer and director Emerald Fennell also brought us “A Promising Young Woman.” If I had known this fact, I would’ve skipped “Saltburn.” Not because her writing or directing is bad, quite the opposite. The story has moments of potential. Insightful if I need to understand the kind of people I am unlikely to ever meet. The problem with Fennell is that her stories are filled with terrible people with not one redeeming quality. It’s like Fennell hates every person she’s ever met and then decides to highlight them in film. “Saltburn” tries to be shocking, but it feels flashy and unbelievable, even though I believe that wealthy people go around and do sick things all the time. We regular folks just aren’t privy to their insanity.

I didn’t hate it. I just really didn’t like it. At all. It made me depressed and grossed out. Still, you should see it if you like psychological thrillers and have a strong stomach for the bizarre. You can google the depravity if you are curious, but the memes won’t make any sense until you watch the whole thing.

This review is based on a request from my friends Misty, Meg, and Jay. After watching, I was immediately mad! Then I messaged them, and we laughed about this movie non-stop. There’s a lot to talk about. Why is there a karaoke version of the song “Low” by Flo Rida in this movie? Would my friends drink my bathwater? Why are rich people naked so much? There are many more questions. This is a gentle reminder that this is not a date movie. You will need at least 24 hours after viewing to even consider having sex with anyone. If you are an amateur psychologist, you may enjoy diagnosing every type of dysfunction that appears on the screen.

Was there anything redeeming about the movie? Yes. The acting was good. Wonderful settings and cinematography. It was like watching a beautiful horror movie about vomit. Would I watch “Saltburn” again? Maybe. Would I ever take a holiday with a bunch of rich people on a grand estate? Hell, no. Grade C+

Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a writer, story consultant, and working mom.