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3 movies and TV shows like Saltburn you have to watch

In the new movie Saltburn, a talented, but poor young man (The Banshees of Inisherin‘s Barry Keoghan) befriends a rich and charismatic fellow student (Priscilla‘s Jacob Elordi) and gets introduced to the British upper class. Numerous seductions ensue, and some tears (and maybe even a little blood) are shed. If that plot description sounds a tad familiar, that’s because it is.

Saltburn wears its influences on its well-tailored sleeve, with The Talented Mr. Ripley and Brideshead Revisited frequently cited in most reviews as two sources of inspiration. For all of its faults, the one thing that Saltburn does well is whet one’s appetite for other movies that are just like it. The following is a brief list of movies and shows old and new that are similar in tone and subject matter to Emerald Fennell’s new film, and that will satiate the desires of the most demanding Saltburn fan.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

A man looks at another man in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

It’s an obvious recommendation, but it’s also the one that makes the most sense given Saltburn‘s themes of the upper class and suppressed sexual desire. Anthony Minghella’s terrific film adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s classic thriller stars Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, a poor American who is tasked by a rich shipping magnate to retrieve his wayward son, Dickie Greenleaf (an Oscar-nominated Jude Law), in Italy. Once in Dickie’s presence, Tom is seduced by Dickie’s luxurious lifestyle, Dickie’s girlfriend Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Dickie himself. A murder occurs, identities are stolen, crimes are uncovered, and Tom becomes both the hunter and the hunted.

If a movie could ever seduce you, it’s this one. It assembles one of the most gorgeous casts ever (Damon, Law, Paltrow, and co-star Cate Blanchett never looked more movie star beautiful), features stunning on-location cinematography of a sun-dappled Southern Italy, and has an urgent, jazzy score by Gabriel Yared that will make you a bit paranoid. Like Saltburn, The Talented Mr. Ripley marries surface-level thrills with a poignant character study, and what was a fun, if bloody romp through decadent Europe becomes, in its final moments, a haunting portrait of a man undone by his own desire to be anyone but himself.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is streaming on Paramount+.

The Riot Club (2014)

Two men sit on a couch in The Riot Club.

A movie about the privileged class at a prestigious British university? Check. Directed by a talented female filmmaker (in this case, An Education‘s Lone Scherfig)? Check. With a focus on the toxic bonds between privileged handsome young men wearing impeccable clothes? Check. While not a thriller, The Riot Club shares so many similarities with Saltburn that you’d think Fennell was remaking it.

The movie focuses on two Oxford University freshmen, snobbish Alistair (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘s Sam Claflin) and idealistic Miles (Max Irons, son of Jeremy), who are recruited into the Riot Club, a hedonistic private club dedicated to the pursuit of money and pleasure. One night at a bar, an incident occurs that changes the lives of Alistair and Miles forever, and jeopardizes the other members of the club. It’s not a masterpiece, but The Riot Club is superficially entertaining, with enough pretty visuals (the on-location scenery is gorgeous) and handsome people doing terrible things to pass the time pleasantly.

The Riot Club is streaming for free on Tubi.

The Line of Beauty (2006)

Two men lunge near a pool in The Line of Beauty.

Nearly forgotten today, this excellent three-episode BBC miniseries, which was adapted from Alan Hollinghurst’s acclaimed 2004 novel, does a better job than Saltburn in capturing a specific time and place (1980s Great Britain) and having something to say about it. The plot concerns Nick Guest (Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens in one of his first roles), a recent Oxford graduate who is invited to stay at the posh Notting Hill home of his wealthy friend Toby Fedden’s family. Once there, Nick becomes enamored with Toby’s sister and parents, and eventually becomes a permanent resident in their household, all the while hiding his homosexuality from his proper and posh surrogate family.

Unlike Saltburn, The Line of Beauty isn’t a thriller; the only deaths that occur are brought on by the very real threat of the AIDS epidemic, which hovers over the entire miniseries like a grim specter. Nick encounters real-life figures like Margaret Thatcher, and through his relationship with the Feddens, the viewer gets to witness England as it was under Conservative rule throughout the ’80s. While not as superficially as fun, The Line of Beauty is much more satisfying than Saltburn as both a drama and a darkly comic satire on the upper class.

The Line of Beauty is streaming on Prime Video.

Editors' Recommendations

Jason Struss
Section Editor, Entertainment
Jason is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast whose love for cinema, television, and cheap comic books has led him to…
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