Duality as a visual motif in 'Saltburn'

Expect the unexpected from Emerald Fennell’s Nov. 24 release “Saltburn,” a photographically stimulating film starring Barry Keoghan as college student Oliver who becomes intertwined with charming and wealthy classmate Felix, played by “Euphoria” star Jacob Elordi. “She really is a visionary,” cinematographer Linus Sandgren says about the writer-director whose movie redefines desire and privilege. “She is very confident when she talks about her story,” he says. “The overall theme is kind of gothic where you want it to feel like a vampire film, though it’s not literal vampires.” The devilish tale explores duality as a visual motif framing Oliver through reflections as a way to hint at what lies under the surface. One such moment arrives when Oliver stares through a window at Felix — his reflection becomes a prism of himself. “We always wanted to photograph Oliver through reflections and mirrors,” Sandgren says. “One thing we did at the beginning of the film was to isolate him from the rest of the people to make you feel pity for him.” Camera movement considered the splendor and intimacy of scenes while also building suspense for its more eye-opening moments. “A scene that’s disturbing but beautiful to look at is going to be hard for the audience to decide how to feel,” Sandgren notes. For “Saltburn,” being provocative is its visual seasoning.

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