Saltburn's real talent lies in Jacob Elordi's favorite accessory

Staring at Jacob Elordi in Saltburn is like staring at an embarrassment of riches. His alt-rock haircut. Always in style, sometimes two-toned collared shirts. Elodie is a tall hunter-gatherer. Yes, there's also the thought-provoking brow piercing. But there was one accessory that left me stunned and eclipsed everything else: his Livestrong band. It is worn on his wrist, next to an antique watch and a red cord that is no more than the thickness of a human hair and cannot possibly be a Kabbalah bracelet, an undeniable early totem.

Early on in Saltburn we learn that the story takes place in the recent past. A "Welcome Class of 2006" banner announced the news, and moments later a coed student wearing Juicy Couture sweatpants screamed the news. The banner also sets audience expectations in another way: Because courses at Oxford vary in length, filmmaker Emerald Fennell identifies new students by their year of entry rather than their expected year of graduation, the film Producer Emerald Fennell proves she will do her best to respect the long-standing honor of the British nobility. held and sometimes anachronistic traditions.

But when it came to the '00s, she was more interested in style than substance. In addition to MGMT needle drops and Kate Moss's first Topshop series, the film also tells the story of Oliver (played by Barry Keoghan) and Felix (played by Elodie), two Oxford classmates from different directions. They became best friends and had a great time. A summer spent at Saltburn, the latter’s palatial family estate, didn’t feel like living in the internet age. Partly because it's so immersed in the premillennial era. It pays homage to The Talented Mr. Ripley , Brideshead Revisited, and The Secret History . Part of the reason is that much of the film takes place in a 127-room manor built around 1300, where Oliver and Felix lie reading instead of scrolling through Twitter (which was launched that year) and Host a party during your stay. At the moment, instead of taking mobile upload to Facebook. Early ephemera served only as decoration. The same rough plot could have unfolded centuries ago, and given how seamlessly Oliver's crimes unfolded (limited spoilers), it might have made more sense if it had happened.

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For better or worse, Fennell works best with poppies and aesthetics, preferring atmosphere over plot. Take her debut film, Promising Young Woman, for example, which was known for its candy-inspired choices like sexy nurse costumes, candy-colored manicures, and broken-heart necklaces—choices that also help reveal something more. More information about the protagonist, a 30-year-old girl who is still mourning her childhood best friend and unable to shake off the marks of girlhood.

In Saltburn , the Livestrong bracelet is the loudest. Do not believe? Allow me to take a moment to remind you how powerful the Livestrong Bracelet once was. The yellow silicone wristband was first launched in May 2004 as a partnership between the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike to raise funds for cancer survivors. But these bracelets quickly became a must-have fashion statement, leading to nationwide shortages (who among us didn’t force our parents to drive to every sporting goods store in the tri-state area to try to get one?!) in just the first year 55 million units were sold.

"Felix, the most beautiful man in the world, wore the worst clothes known to man," Fennell recently told GQ . "Because such a boy doesn't need to dress well."

So, of course, Felix, the ultimate cool guy, gets Livestrong. But still wearing it more than two years later—when sales dropped, Armstrong began facing doping charges, and indie grungy fashion began to take hold—wasn’t exactly a flexibility. Rather, it's a recognition that Felix barely needs to bend. "Felix, the most beautiful man in the world, wore the worst clothes known to man," Fennell recently told GQ . "Because a boy like that doesn't need to dress well." The eccentric, hard-working Oliver has to try everything he does, while Felix can wear a baggy Abercrombie & Fitch rugby shirt, a too-short Ralph Lauren V-neck T-shirt and sturdy bracelet from Livestrong to get through life calmly. He'd never think about taking it off like he'd never overthink anything because when you're that beautiful and that rich you don't have to. Wristband or not, the world is yours.

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While many viewed the writer-director's delivery of class commentary in the film as muddled at best, that slender yellow ribbon brilliantly embodies Felix's relationship with his privilege whether Fennell intended it or not . Like pre-platform "woke" Instagram images, Livestrong became cool in part because it symbolized do-gooderism, but also because, like posting an infographic, it was easier to buy a bracelet than actually go out and do something charitable. This is how Felix became an extremely wealthy "good guy." He emphasizes performance (selling to less wealthy loners) rather than actually practicing true kindness (plotting to redistribute his wealth).

It would have been nice if Fennell had chosen to delve deeper into that classic-specific tension rather than letting Livestrong do all the work.