Featuring an ensemble cast that’s chock full of bright young things and a peppering of more established, seasoned stars, Fennell’s sophomore film received critical acclaim following its debut at the Telluride Film Festival in late August 2023.
With its wider, theatrical release looming, let’s look at everything we know about this unassuming personal drama including its release date, filming location, plot and cast.
How can I watch Saltburn?
Saltburn will stream on Prime Video from 22 December, Amazon has announced.
Following its festival debut in late August, the film arrived in UK cinemas on Friday, 17 November.
Originally, the movie was due to land a week later but was pulled forward due to its glowing festival reviews in an attempt to grab the attention of 2024’s awards season.
What is Saltburn about?
Saltburn follows Oliver, a young student at Oxford University who is struggling to find his place in the world. Fortunately, things change when he meets a charismatic new friend named Felix who invites him to stay in his expansive family home in the country once the school year has finished.
Once there, Oliver is embroiled in a haze of excess as he is drawn into Felix’s colourful family in their lavish stately home. Here, he meets a bunch of new people and partakes in his fair share of partying, all while learning more about himself and his place in the world throughout one memorable summer.
While this all sounds very nice and coming-of-age-y, the movie's official synopsis teases darker tones, saying it will tell “a wicked tale of privilege and desire."
According to Fennell, she wanted her second film to be a lesson on how to sympathise with highly unlikable people - "the sorts of people that we can’t stand, the sorts of people who are abhorrent," she says.
By setting the movie in 2006, she felt her story would be more relatable and devoid of any saccharine nostalgia. The title of the movie comes from the name of the estate that Felix invites Oliver to over the summer.
Where was Saltburn filmed?
As Fennell explained to Vanity Fair, filming for Saltburn had to take place all in one location in order to provide the right kind of fraternity vibe on set.
“It was important to me that we were all in there together, that the making of the film in some way had that feeling of a summer where everyone loses their mind together,” she explained. “I didn’t want to be constantly picking up and moving.”
That said, a strange bit of contract fine print meant that no one involved with the movie could reveal which stately home provided the backdrop for the movie and its lavish, over-the-top activities. However, while cast and crew were sworn to secrecy, the Internet wasted no time in getting to the bottom of the case.
Before the movie even had time to reach screens, Tatler had identified it as the picturesque Drayton House in Lowick, Northamptonshire, with movie magazine Empire quick to do the same.
That's the problem with big stately homes, we suppose. They're not that good at being subtle.
What are critics saying?
Following its festival debut, the first reviews for Saltburn started to make their way online. Is it an unforgettable summer or is this one country manor visit we might want to avoid?
Well, luckily for fans of Barry Keoghan, Fennell's latest seems to be a hit with most movie writers - but not all of them. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw wasn't 100% convinced, suggesting that it's "watchable but sometimes weirdly overheated and grandiose."
The Telegraph liked it though, with their writer admitting that they "spent half of the film barking with laughter and the other half watching through his fingers." Meanwhile, Total Film was a bit on the fence, saying Saltburn is a "fiercely funny watch, albeit one that doesn’t deliver on its promise quite as well as Fennell’s debut."
Read our review round-up below.
The Guardian: Hot Brideshead soup needs more seasoning (3-min read)
The Telegraph: Brideshead regurgitated – in the most outrageously watchable way (3-min read)
Total Film: "Barry Keoghan excels in a lavish but ludicrous psychodrama" (2-min read)
Evening Standard: Emerald Fennell’s latest is a deliciously twisty tale of grotesque overprivilege (2-min read)
Is there a trailer for Saltburn?
The first teaser trailer for Saltburn dropped at the end of August and introduced us to Oliver, a student who gets whisked out of his shy and introverted life and into a more extravagant world after he befriends the enigmatic Felix.
Meanwhile, the second official trailer for Saltburn arrived in late October, luring us deeper into a world of partying and high-society relationship dynamics at the mysterious Saltburn estate.
At the centre of it all is Keoghan's Oliver, a young student who slowly loses his naivety as he comes out of his shell during a summer of excess. Watch it below.
Who is in the Saltburn cast?
Conversations With Friends star Alison Oliver will appear as Felix’s sister Venetia, with Midsommar’s Archie Madekwe playing his cousin.
More established, bigger-name stars also feature, including Rosamund Pike and Richard E. Grant as Felix’s parents Elsbeth and Sir James, and Promising Young Woman star Carey Mulligan as Elsbeth’s friend Pamela.
Elsewhere, Saltburn will also feature Inside No. 9’s Reece Shearsmith as Professor Ware, British comedian and Ghosts star Lolly Adefope, House of the Dragon baddie Ewan Mitchell and Welsh stage and screen actor Paul Rhys.
Saltburn will stream on Prime Video from 22 December.