Saltburn (2023) Ending Explained – What was Oliver’s plan?

Saltburn Plot Summary

Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) is a student at Oxford University, but he isn’t like everyone else there. He comes from a poor background and got into the university on a scholarship. He struggles to fit in, but ends up making friends with a charming aristocrat (Jacob Elordi) who invites him to his eccentric family’s massive estate for a summer he’ll never forget.

What happens when Felix takes Oliver back home?

Felix tells Oliver that he’s taking him somewhere as a surprise for his birthday, so he tells him to dress smart.

It turns out that Felix is driving Oliver back to his hometown to see his mum, whom he hasn’t seen in ages. When they arrive, it is evident Oliver has been lying about his background because his house is in a comfortably middle class area.

His mum answers the door, and she isn’t how Oliver described her. She is pleased to see Oliver and welcomes Felix in as well. To add to Felix’s surprise, Oliver’s dad is very much alive as well. Oliver is uncomfortable as the truth comes out and claims to have a migraine, wanting to leave.

What happens at Oliver’s big birthday bash at Saltburn?

Felix and Oliver return to Saltburn, and Felix tells Oliver that they should get his party out of the way, then go from there, but he isn’t happy with his lies. The Catton family has prepared a “Midsummer Night’s Dream” themed big birthday bash for Oliver. Felix doesn’t want to be near Oliver at the party.

Oliver is irked by this and tracks Felix down to the labyrinth on the Catton’s property to declare his love for his friend. He interrupts Felix having sex with a woman and is rejected by Felix, which results in Oliver being sick.

The next morning, Felix’s dead body is found in the labyrinth. Sir James and Elspeth try to put a brave face on things, but are struggling with their grief. They are all sat around the table, making painful conversation when the butler comes in to close the curtains, as the police are here, and he doesn’t want the family to see what’s going on. Venetia and Farleigh can’t keep up this facade and break down.

How does Saltburn end? 

They have the funeral for Felix, and Oliver has sex with Felix’s grave in a bizarre moment. Not long after the funeral, Venetia confronts Oliver about everything. They have an uncomfortable exchange while Venetia is in the bath tub. Venetia turns up dead in the bathtub the next day, seemingly after committing suicide.

Elspeth wants to keep Oliver around, but Sir James summons him to his office to discuss his discreet exit from Saltburn. Oliver refuses to go, as he claims Elspeth needs him. Sir James gets his cheque book out and asks how much it’ll take for him to go. Oliver leaves Saltburn, just as he arrived, with his suitcase, albeit richer after the payoff from Sir James.

The years pass by, and we are in the present day, and Oliver reads in the newspaper that Sir James has apparently died of natural causes. Oliver reunites with Elspeth after they bump into each other in a coffee shop, and she welcomes him back to Saltburn, but has a number of accidents and ends up on life support. It is revealed that Oliver’s opening monologue in the film was being delivered to Elspeth in bed on life support. He confesses to killing Felix by poisoning his drink and implies he also killed Venetia. He then rips away Elspeth’s life support and watches her die. It is revealed that it was his plan all along, as he punctured Felix’s bike tire to initiate the original exchange between them. 

The whole Catton family are now gone, with Elspeth having signed over everything to Oliver in her will. Oliver celebrates by prancing around naked in the Saltburn mansion, taking cocaine and dancing to Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Murder on the Dancefloor

Read More: Saltburn Movie Review

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