Fans of aristocratic British country-house dramas should not miss “Saltburn,” a delicious new pudding from writer/director Emerald Fennell. Set at the titular gothic stately home with an all-star cast including Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Carey Mulligan and Jacob Elordi, its lead, Irish actor Barry Keoghan (you saw him in “The Banshees of Inisherin” last year with Colin Farell and Brendan Gleason) may be taking home an Oscar with this one.
Fennell, who is still only 37, won an Academy Award for her directorial debut, “Promising Young Woman,” in 2020; you might also recognize her from having played Camilla Parker-Bowles (aka Britain’s current Queen) in “The Crown.”
Fennell screened her new film in New York this week, followed by a reception at the Plaza Hotel, where actor Matt Dillon swept in to give her his congratulations. (And perhaps remind her he was available for future projects?)
She told us her film was in the tradition of great “something happened at the country house one summer stories like ‘Brideshead Revisited,’ ‘The Go-Between,’ and ‘Atonement.’”
“The thing about the British upper classes is you’re never ‘in,’” she said. “Even when you’re ‘in’ you’re not ‘in,’ because there’s always another door.”
The film’s plot can’t be described without spoilers, but there’s everything you want in a posh family drama: a fancy-dress ball with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” theme, comedy, sadism, and an excruciating scene over breakfast where the newcomer doesn’t understand the hidden social codes.
“Saltburn” will be released by Amazon MGM in theaters on November 24.