Mark your calendars, Santa is about to bring us all a heaping dose of psychosexual tension for Christmas. Gothic romantic thriller Saltburn is set to arrive on Amazon Prime on December 22, just in time to make many a family holiday gathering incredibly awkward.
The second feature film from director Emerald Fennell -- a name Anglophiles will recognize from her turn as Patsy on Call the Midwife --- the film has been one of the most divisive of 2023, thanks to its dark themes, air of general horniness, often hilarious skewering of the lifestyle of the idle rich, and unexpected final act twists. A sort of Brideshead Revisited on steroids, the movie is bonkers in deeply compelling ways, and has left audiences everywhere in various states of either deep discomfort or unhinged glee. (Possibly sometimes both.)
Set in the mid-2000s, Saltburn follows the story of Oliver Quick, a strange and occasionally offputting student struggling to find his place in the posh and well-connected world of Oxford University. A chance meeting with the captivating (and very rich) Felix Catton changes his fortunes dramatically, seeing him suddenly invited to all the parties he was formerly excluded from and hanging out with the popular legacy admits who may not be great students but who understand the unspoken rules of life at Oxford better than he ever will. As he and Felix grow closer, he's invited to spend the summer at the Catton's massive estate called Saltburn for the summer. Oliver, apparently having missed the memo that no one who grows up in a house that has its own name is ever terribly stable, immediately finds himself in a world of excess, debauchery, and generally weirdness, all underlined by the fact that his new BFF can unironically toss off comments about how his family was the inspiration behind multiple Evelyn Waugh novels.
What follows is a story of twisted desire, hidden secrets, jealousy, and lots more. It's certainly not a movie for everyone, but it's certainly earned its place in the larger cultural conversation.
Here’s the film’s synopsis:
Set in the mid-2000s and shot in a variety of locations around the UK, the pic follows student Oliver Quick, who is struggling to find his place at Oxford University and finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton, who invites him to Saltburn, his eccentric family’s sprawling estate, for a summer never to be forgotten.
Saltburn stars Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin) and Jacob Elordi (Euphoria) as Oliver and Felix, respectively, alongside a talented supporting cast that includes Rosamund Pike (The Wheel of Time) and Richard E. Grant (Loki) as Felix's wildly out of touch parents Elspeth and Sir James, Alison Oliver (Conversations with Friends) as his sister Venetia, Archie Madekwe (Les Miserables) as Catton cousin Fairleigh Start, and Carey Mulligan (The Dig) as an eccentric friend of the family who's staying at Saltburn after some rough developments in her personal life.
The film is written, directed, and produced by Fennell. It debuted at the Telluride Film Festival earlier this year, and is currently playing in theaters. Saltburn will premiere on Prime Video on Friday, December 22.