If class analysis isn’t the best perspective to dig into “Saltburn,” perhaps it’s better to focus on the main source of character drama: Oliver’s feelings for Felix. In the film’s opening narration, Oliver claims he “loved” Felix but wasn’t “in love.” Both Oliver and Felix talk of “love” for each other throughout the film, which in Oliver’s case at least goes beyond seeing each other as good friends and into a clear homoerotic sexual fixation. In the end, Oliver declares he actually “hated” Felix – which sounds like a contradiction, but it’s very possible he could have both loved and hated the same person.
Of course, there’s much to debate over what exactly Oliver considers “love.” He comes across as a complete sociopath, lacking empathy towards others and having zero conniptions about cruelly manipulating and hurting people, so he may very well be incapable of “love” as traditionally defined. Whether or not his feelings can be accurately called “love,” however, he’s certainly filled with passion and obsession. His obsession with Felix is partially based in sexual attraction, but beyond that, it seems to be based primarily in envy. Oliver wants what Felix has: His social status, his wealth, and his effortless ability to charm everyone around him. In the end, Oliver is able to take all of Felix’s former belongings, but gaining Felix’s personal strengths is another matter entirely.