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Our obsession with the wealthy has hit new heights in pop culture and media — with narratives that critique their lives of excess and metaphorically allows us to "eat the rich." Emerald Fennell's biting and disturbing new satire "Saltburn" does exactly that.
Led by Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi, "Saltburn" is an untraditional take on class warfare stories we know so well. A seemingly disenfranchised scholarship boy Oliver (Keoghan) befriends the wealthy, attractive and popular Felix (Elordi) at Oxford University. When tragedy strikes in Oliver's life, the pair develop an intimate and almost homoerotic bond. Felix invites Oliver to his family's grotesquely large estate called Saltburn, and that's when things get freaky, and we see Oliver systematically infiltrating this high class, privileged family and their social circle.
For this reason, "Saltburn" is indicative of a recent trend in films that focus on the plight of the working class and their takedowns of the uber-rich. If this film has left you hungry for more of the same delicious fare, here are seven other "eat the rich" films like "Saltburn."
01 "Parasite" (2019, Max)
This 2020 Academy Award best picture winner is a gripping, suspenseful and satirical tale of the South Korean class divide. Director and writer Bong Joon-ho infuses dark comedy into the story of two families: one rich and one poor. The Kim family schemes to be employed by the Park family, becoming tutors, drivers and housekeepers for them, slowly snaking their way into their household as qualified, trustworthy people.
But this drama gets interesting when the Parks go on vacation, and the Kims revel in their lavish mansion. They uncover something hidden deep in the house that changes just about all the dynamics between the two families. It's every man for themselves when the Parks come back from vacation and throw a birthday party. . . Let's just say it gets bloody.
Ultimately, "Parasite" resonated with audiences because of its scathing look at inequality in South Korea. It depicted the realistic under-privileged neighborhoods and housing crisis, while also highlighting the people who suffer from high rates of unemployment as the gap between the rich and poor widens.
02 "Knives Out" (2019, Netflix) and "Glass Onion" (2022, Netflix)
This Rian Johnson whodunit series stars a buzzy cast of A-listers in both "Knives Out" and its sequel "Glass Onion." anchored by the folksy and affable Detective Benoit Blanc, played by 007 actor Daniel Craig. Each movie gathers a bunch of rich people in one house, and when one dies under shady circumstances, it's Blanc's job to figure out who did it.
In the first "Knives Out," Ana De Armas plays an immigrant nurse who inherits the wealth of a rich family after the patriarch dies by what looks like a suicide. Each family member is played by the likes of Toni Collette, Chris Evans and Jamie Lee Curtis question the nurse about inheriting their fortune. The second film follows a similar whodunit structure but each cast member – from Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monáe – has to solve a murder mystery game that turns into real life when they are invited to their ex-friend/billionaire's estate played by Edward Norton.
The series really gets into the nitty-gritty of greedy, wealthy people and how they would kill to maintain their wealth — even if it means murdering friends and family.
03 "Hustlers" (2019, Digital and on demand)
What's better than strippers giving finance bros their comeuppance after they caused the 2008 financial crisis? The answer is nothing. And "Hustlers" does right by the real-life story of Roselyn Keo. Based on the New York Magazine story, "The Hustlers at Scores," director-writer Lorene Scafaria takes us through the New York City nightclub scene where Destiny (Constance Wu) is a professional club dancer struggling to make ends meet who befriends established dancer Ramona (Jennifer Lopez). Shortly thereafter the 2007 recession hits, and NYC's clubs are deeply affected. But they devise a plan spearheaded by Ramona to drug some of the top finance men in the city and rob them by charging thousands of dollars on their credit cards at clubs while they're incapacitated.
"Hustlers" is a fast-paced, intriguing look at the underbelly of the NYC club scene while also skewering the rich people who created the gaping inequality in American life, continuing to benefit from the struggles of the working class.
04 "The Menu" (2022, Max)
"The Menu" is a dark comedy that follows Anya Taylor Joy and Nicholas Hoult as they travel to an island to dine at one of the world's most renowned restaurants that promises a unique eating experience. But of course, things aren't what they appear to be in "The Menu," and the rich guests who have paid an obscene amount of money to be there are all put through horrific psychological tests by the head chef played by the always creepy Ralph Fiennes.
"The Menu" is a pretty clear example of an eat the rich film, as Taylor-Joy's character is the only seemingly working class person in the group of diners. She's the only one who finds herself challenging the ridiculousness and elitism of fine dining and the rich who revel in this exclusive eating experience that does more harm than good.
05 "Triangle of Sadness" (2022, Hulu)
This indie standout and Palme d'Or winner is an absurdly funny satire on the rich people stuck on an expensive yacht trip – well, that is until the boat actually gets wrecked. The ensemble cast is made of standouts Harris Dickinson, the late Charlbi Dean and Dolly de Leon. Director-writer Ruben Östlund tells "Triangle of Sadness" in three parts to keep the audience hooked into the absurdity of its plot.
Look out for a gross scene of the elite getting violently seasick and throwing up all over each other. A perfect metaphor to highlight the repulsive and obscene levels of wealth and privilege these people hold and forget about so easily as they have people wait on them hand and foot.
06 "Dumb Money" (2023, Digital and on demand)
This pandemic movie showcases the great GameStop short squeeze of 2021. Paul Dano plays Keith, an everyman who notices that GameStop's stock is falling and so he invests his life savings into it. While it was seemingly a waste of time, people on Reddit, namely the r/WallStreetBets subreddit revealed that investment banks were short selling the stock because they thought it would close. However, it caused an increase in the stock price when online buyers started aggressively buying the stock. This led to hedge funds losing hundreds of millions of dollars.
"Dumb Money" depicts working class people outsmarting some of the richest financial minds and companies in the country. This true story happened at a time where people were reeling from the direct effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain it put on working class people financially because of the loss of work.
07 "Ready or Not" (2019, Digital and on demand)
Imagine marrying the love of your life and on the same day being forced to play a deadly game of hide and seek with his rich family. . . Welcome to "Ready or Not." The black comedy horror follows foster kid Grace (Samara Weaving) when she marries into the Le Domas family, whose members are seemingly cursed.
Turns out thhere is a Le Domas tradition Grace didn't know about. Each time a family member marries, they have to play a game at midnight. Poor Grace is left clueless when the game turns deadly, as each family member tries to kill her as part of a ritualistic sacrifice that is part of their curse.
In "Ready or Not" the only working class person without a real family is being hunted for so that the privileged can maintain the status quo. It is very on the nose that Grace is the one who is challenging the wealth they cannot live without.
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