This story contains spoilers for Saltburn.
Saltburn, the new psychosexual thriller from Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), has it fair share of outlandish scenes. Before we even get to Barry Keoghan dancing (while naked!) to "Murder on the Dancefloor," we see his character engage in several other bizarre sexual encounters. Playing Oliver Quick, a poor and struggling Oxford University student, Keoghan infiltrates his wealthy friend's estate at Saltburn. Slowly gaining their trust, he tears the family apart with mind games and puzzling murders. Oh, and there's also the scene where he drinks another man's bathwater and later has sex with his corpse in the grave. Can't forget that.
At the end of the film, Oliver win his twisted game. Prancing around (while, again, nude) around Saltburn—which now belongs to him after a slew of murders—he gives the Sophie Ellis-Bextor jam some jazz hands and dice throws. According to choreographer Polly Bennett, the two envisioned something between Fred Astaire and the Joker stairs when putting the scene together. "He’s a lovely mover in the sense that he’s very athletic and sporty, so he understands his body in a sports way," Bennett told Vulture. "There’s quite a narrative to what he’s doing: He’s going to the door, he’s pulling back, he’s seeing the room, he looks at the family photographs as he passes... All of these things were put in so that he wasn’t having to be a professional dancer going down the hallway; it felt more like a groove, like you do when you’ve got music playing and you’re carefree."
Though Bennett didn't know that the dance scene was going to make for the final moment of the film, she did confirm that—and this is surely the question you're asking us—Keoghan was always going to be naked. "That’s why the camera is behind him and certain moves have to be adapted and created so that it wasn’t the full-on Full Monty show for all of it," she said. Still, there are some full-frontal moments in the scene. "I did have to take out a couple of turns and spins I had put in because it showed just a little too much of the wrong thing in motion, which may have distracted the audience," Bennett explained. The dance reportedly took 11 takes, with Keoghan joking to Variety, "I think we got it on the fourth take, but people just wanted to keep seeing me dancing."
Jacob Elordi and Barry Keoghan at the ‘SALTBURN’ premiere.
— Film Updates (@FilmUpdates) November 15, 2023
The dance scene has absolutely distracted audiences, however, as social media blew up with shocked reactions to The Banshees of Inisherin actor's crazy antics. "Hugh Grant no longer holds the mantle for 'wildest scene in which a guy dances round a posh house to a camp anthem,'" one Twitter user wrote. "Was KICKING my feet in delight," another responded, with some even declaring, "'Murder On The Dance Floor' by Sophie Ellis-Bextor is my favorite use of music in a movie ever."
As twisted as Saltburn's plot is, its fun and campy ending is resonating with audiences. "It’s really pleasing that a piece of choreography does something like that," Bennett said. "If you can’t say something, move it. When we’re searching for words, we gesture. So, if you don’t have the words to say what you want to say, dancing it feels like the right thing."
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