A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Few positive messages, with lots of manipulation and deception throughout.
Positive Role Models
Characters show a sense of entitlement, behaving snobbishly and superior to others. Kindness is shown by some, but their motivations are blurred. Felix comes from an ultra-wealthy, aristocratic family. He shows kindness to Oliver by taking him under his wing, inviting him to his family home. However, it's suggested that he sees Oliver as a "toy" rather than a friend. Oliver is in awe of Felix, his family, and their lifestyle -- to the point of obsession. He's willing to do anything to become a part of it. While most of Felix's family shows warmth toward Oliver for the most part, they do look down their noses at him, while Felix's cousin, Farleigh, treats him appallingly.
The entire film is set within an ultra-wealthy and upper class British society. Most of the cast is White, although a prominent supporting character, Farleigh, is played by Archie Madekwe who is of part Nigerian descent. Farleigh is gay and his sexuality is openly discussed but never diminished or judged. Further racial diversity among party goers, as well as the staff that work at the estate with a conversation about race occurring off the back of this. Although the story centers around the relationship between two young men, there are a number of female characters who are given agency and are integral to the plot. The cast includes actors from Ireland (Barry Keoghan), Australia (Jacob Elordi), as well as England, and the film is written and directed by the female filmmaker Emerald Fennell. References to mental health, bulimia, and addiction, though these aren't explored in any great depth.
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Violence & Scariness
Deaths occur off-screen although dead bodies are seen. This includes someone dead in bathtub with a razor blade next to them and blood everywhere. An unconscious bed-ridden character who has various tubes connected to them, has one pulled out of their throat and proceeds to choke and gasp for air before dying. Funerals take place. A character wraps their fist up before punching a mirror. Mention of people falling out of windows to their deaths. References to bulimia, the death of a parent, and "jokes" about child abuse/molestation.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Full male nudity including an extended dance routine. Characters are seen making out and undressing each other. Some non-sexual nudity shown from behind. Two characters are interrupted having sex -- no nudity shown. A character spies on another masturbating in the bath. They then drink the remains of the bath water sticking their tongue in the plug hole. A character masturbates and performs oral sex on someone while they are on their period -- both are seen with blood on their faces. A character surprises another in their bed and proceeds to masturbate them under the sheets. A character pulls down their trousers and underwear and proceeds to "have sex" with a recently dug grave. A character says they were a lesbian for a while but found it "too wet for me." References to "threesomes," "sucking off," "hand jobs," and "jerking off."
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Frequent language includes "s--t," "c--t," "a--holes," and variations of "f--k." Also "loser," "bootlicker," "f---ing hell," "s--t stirrer," "whore," "bloody," "freak," "t-ts," "pissed," "slash," "arse," and "slutty fairies." "Jesus Christ," "Christ's sake," and "oh my God" used as exclamations. Sexual references.
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Products & Purchases
Most of the characters are incredibly rich and are part of upper class British society. Characters attend the prestigious Oxford University and spend their summer in an enormous family country estate, complete with staff, where lavish parties are thrown. References to inherited wealth and handouts. Characters behave snobbishly toward others. Some alcoholic brands mentioned by name. Harry Potter books are shown and discussed. British bands from the 1990s-2000s are mentioned and heard for scene setting.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink and smoke heavily throughout. Close-ups of characters lighting and smoking cigarettes. Drinks include pints of beer, shots, wine, and champagne (drunk from the bottle). Characters down drinks and are shown intoxicated, vomiting as a result. Cocaine use. Reference to drug dealing/addiction, alcoholism, and rehab.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Saltburn is a dark, mature dramedy/thriller with sex, full-frontal nudity, strong language, drinking, smoking, and drug use. Written and directed by Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), it centers on young Oxford University student Oliver (Barry Keoghan), who finds himself drawn into a world of privilege when he befriends Felix (Jacob Elordi) and spends the summer with him at his aristocratic family's enormous country estate. Lavish parties are thrown with characters drinking and smoking to excess, sometimes to the point of vomiting. There are also several scenes involving cocaine use. Sex and obsession run throughout (potential spoiler alerts ahead). A character performs oral sex on a woman who's menstruating, and after someone masturbates in the bath, a character who was secretly watching drinks the remains of the bath water. After a funeral, a character "has sex" with the muddy grave. Several characters die off-screen; their bodies are seen, including someone lying in a bath full of blood with a razor blade beside them. Language is quite strong, with regular use of "c--t," variants of "f--k," sexual terms, and more. There are few positive messages or role models here, with deception, manipulation, and snobbery the prominent themes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In her much anticipated follow-up to her breakout film, Promising Young Woman, writer-director Emerald Fennell turns her attentions to the upper class of British society. Saltburn is set in a world of the ultra rich, where the privileged few spend their summers on family estates so big they can't remember the names of the staff that wait on them. Oliver is our gateway into this world after he's invited to spend the summer with his new friend, and fellow Oxford University student, Felix and his eccentric and extraordinarily wealthy family. Keoghan is superb in the lead role, showing off his range as an actor, and proving that he's game for pretty much anything. Elsewhere, Rosamund Pike as Elspeth, the matriarch of the family, gets much of the film's best lines. Saltburn joins a myriad of recent movies about the super-rich (The Menu and Triangle of Sadness to name a few) and, like those films, don't expect to find yourself rooting for anyone. Something of a Talented Mr. Ripley for Generation Z, prepare to enter a world that will shock and disgust, but also one that won't let you turn away.
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