Oliver Quick and Felix Catton’s relationship is at the centerfold of the Gothic romance that unfolds in ‘Saltburn.’ The two boys hail from completely different worlds, mostly because it’s near impossible for Oliver, in all his ordinary lackluster, to belong to Felix’s ivory tower reality. Nevertheless, the summer after university graduation, Felix, who can’t help but sympathize with his friend’s unpleasant background, invites him to stay at his house, The Saltburn Estate.
As the two friends spend their days in the country house, drenched in convenience and luxury, their relationship grows in ways unimaginable— and not always for the better. Thus, if Oliver and Felix’s tentative friendship, which consistently flirts with romance, has caught your attention, you must be wondering if the relationship ever takes the romantic leap. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Felix’s Sexuality and Relationship With Oliver
Although Oliver and Felix’s friendship remains laced with homoerotic tension, its one-sided nature is easy to spot. Due to Oliver’s longing glances at his friend, paired with his often creepy voyeuristic observation of Felix’s sex life, the argument for his attraction toward the other man makes itself. After all, Oliver is infatuated with Felix in every way possible.
Ever since Oliver’s first glimpse at Felix, the man stood out to him even in a crowd. Felix expels a naturally attractive energy that draws everyone to him, like bees to a jar of honey. At first glance, one would be tempted to call Felix a trust fund-spoilt rich kid. However, even though the man is all those things, his inherent “nice guy” disposition makes it impossible for anyone to hate him.
Felix has found a way to be modest about his privileges without ever needing to interact with the idea of it productively. He’s self-effacing, almost as if he’s embarrassed by his family’s wealth yet not embarrassed enough to forsake it. He’s kind to a fault— according to Elspeth, his mother— but still manages to be cruel at times when he simply doesn’t know better.
One of the film’s scenes, depicting Oliver’s first night at Saltburn, expresses it best. Felix is kind enough to anticipate Oliver’s need for a dinner jacket for his family’s absurd black-tie dinner dress code. Still, he can’t predict that his friend may not have cufflinks with him at all times. All these characteristics combined end up endearing him to most people, and Oliver is no exception.
Yet, Oliver’s attraction runs deeper. His desire for Felix is all-consuming. He wants to remain by Felix’s side, but he also wants to know what it’s like to be him. Oliver wants Felix in every way someone can want another person. However, Felix can’t even reciprocate Oliver’s attraction, let alone his infatuation. During the boys’ time at Oxford, Felix has a certain playboy reputation at school. Nevertheless, he only ever hooks up with girls. As such, one can only assume Felix’s heterosexuality.
Felix obviously cares about Oliver deeply. Even though he may not have the purest of intentions, since most of his affections come from a place of sympathy for what he believes is Oliver’s poor upbringing, Felix still cares for Oliver and loves him as a friend. For the same reason, he looks after him and ensures he remains comfortable and happy. Furthermore, he also seems to be territorial over the other man, even if only in a non-romantic way.
At times, Felix even gives into the tension between him and Oliver through subtle flirting via coy close approximation. Nevertheless, it’s only an action born from his amusement. He’s aware of the effect he has on other people and enjoys toying with it, but he’s simply not attracted to his friend to ever initiate anything. Eventually, once Oliver’s deceit comes out into the open, even Felix’s platonic love for him evaporates, leaving their friendship cold and dead in the grave, much like the latter man himself.
Ultimately, Felix and Oliver’s relationship never progresses past the platonic stage, only going down from there. Even though the many romantic montages in the film’s first half may lead people to believe the two may end up together, such a reality never comes to be since Felix most likely isn’t gay, bi-curious, or anything in between. Thus, apart from Oliver’s obsessive sexual actions toward Felix, from intentional and covert voyeurism, attempts to have intercourse with Felix’s grave, and the infamous bathtub-licking scene, no actual requited romance occurs between the two characters.
Read More: Did Oliver Really Love Felix in Saltburn?