Spoiler alert: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for Saltburn.
Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) kicks off his journey in Saltburn as an Oxford student grappling with the fine art of fitting in. Navigating the maze of upper-class etiquette proves to be a challenge, but he stumbles upon an unexpected friend in the form of the affluent and wildly popular Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi).
Drawn in by Oliver's gripping tales of his parents' struggles with substance abuse and mental health issues, Felix not only befriends him but also extends an invitation to spend the summer at his family's estate: Saltburn.
However, as Felix surprises Oliver with a spontaneous visit to see his estranged mother, the plot thickens. It turns out Oliver lied about his upbringing. Why the deception? What's Oliver hiding about his family? Read on to find out!
Why did Oliver lie about his family in 'Saltburn'?
Let's get straight to the point: Oliver Quick lies about his family as a way to get close to Felix Catton and execute his master plan of seizing complete control over Saltburn. Spoiler alert: Oliver pulls it off and ends up on top!
Starting with an orchestrated meeting, Oliver goes to great lengths to capture Felix's attention. In order to get closer, he implies that he hails from a troubled and impoverished family. When he senses Felix pulling away, Oliver stages a fake phone call from his mom claiming his father succumbed to an overdose.
This leads to his successful infiltration of Felix's social circle, and by the end of the school year, he's invited to spend the entire summer at Saltburn. Once there, Oliver's behavior becomes increasingly erratic (yes, we're talking about that unforgettable bathtub scene).
Felix eventually decides to throw Oliver a birthday party, and during a surprise visit to Oliver's hometown, the truth about Oliver's background is revealed. Instead of the dysfunctional family he portrayed, he comes from a respectable middle-class suburban family. His father is also alive and well, debunking the tragic narrative Oliver spun.
This revelation triggers a fallout between Felix and Oliver, ultimately leading to Oliver murdering Felix by poisoning his drink. Venetia, Felix's sister (Alison Oliver), catches on to Oliver's lies, and he manipulates her into taking her own life. Oliver also orchestrates Farleigh's (Archie Madekwe) expulsion from the estate via a fabricated email.
Several years later, after James' (Richard E. Grant) death, Oliver orchestrates a meeting with Elspeth (Rosamund Pike) at a café. Winning over her trust, Oliver is invited to return to Saltburn with her. After a few months, Elspeth becomes fatally ill and signs all of her financial assets over to Oliver, including Saltburn.
In the film's climax, Oliver unveils his true motive behind the lies — a deep-seated hatred for the wealthy. He loathes Felix and the entire Catton family, despising everything they stand for. Oliver then kills Elspbeth by forcibly removing her ventilator and officially inherits Saltburn.
In his closing monologue, Oliver reiterates his seething disdain for Felix and his family, shedding light on the ongoing class struggles between the uber-rich and the middle and working classes.
Saltburn is now streaming on Prime Video.