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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Chee

5 Critically-Acclaimed "Eat the Rich" Films to Watch Right Now

Obsessions around society’s elite class spreads far and beyond nuanced humour and subtle side-eyes. It is an image that plays a large part in media and film; digital media is fixated on influencers, boasting opulent lifestyles. Hollywood can’t help but create beautifully aesthetic representations of generational wealth. Immediately, films like Saltburn and Triangle of Sadness spring to mind – beautiful people, living beautiful lives without seemingly any grasp of gritty reality. TikTok is one such media platform that allows viewers to indulge in this ideal – with continuous content being bred from the rising trends relayed in ‘eat the rich’ cinema that crystallises the glitz and glamour of the wealthy elite. Saltburn themed dinner parties, luxury yacht trips and staycations in stately homes, TikTok feeds this fascination.

 

However, whilst society’s obsession and romanticism of the rich only grows, Hollywood has developed this intrigue into a distinct subgenre – ‘eat the rich’. Whether born from obsession and implementing themselves into the lives of the rich, or merely finding themselves surrounded in the presence of wealth by mere accident, this newly popular breed of film sees utterly ‘normal’ characters single-handedly overthrowing the class system, making a mockery of the power that wealth holds. These films make for fascinating watching, with plenty of opportunity for unpacking. See our list below of noteworthy ‘eat the rich’ films.



1) Saltburn


One of the most anticipated and popular film releases last year was Emerald Fennel’s Saltburn, starring Jacob Elordi, Barry Keoghan, Richard E. Grant, Rosamund Pike, and Carey Mulligan. In this glamourised depiction of a wealthy family spending the summer sunning on their sprawling estate, we witness the downfall of an entire line of generational wealth at the hands of their friend, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The film does what many others in the genre do, and satirises the representation of the wealthy, with hilariously naïve characters like James Catton (Richard E Grant) and Elspeth Catton (Rosamund Pike). However, Fennel’s characterisations provide more complexity than a simple comedic poke at the wealthy Catton family, portraying otherwise tragically naïve characters like Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), and creating a cast that we become fascinated by, much so like Oliver (Barry Keoghan).

 

Whilst this film follows the stereotype of ‘eat the rich’ cinema, it simultaneously counters this trope. Whilst Oliver becomes fixated with toppling the Catton line, this obsession goes further – culminating in his embodiment of the very class he sought to destroy. It provides a clever representation of the blur between obsession and desire, and by the time the movie is over, the audience is left with this same desire. The aesthetics, and soundtrack alone create a cosmic world of fantasy and gluttony that we can only wish for, tainted by a shedload of murder, both on and off the dancefloor.




2) Ready or Not


This 2019 horror comedy by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett stars Samara Weaving and Andie MacDowell. Ready or Not follows a newly married, typical middle-class Grace Le Domas (Samara Weaving), participating in a sinister party game at a family dinner with her husband and in-laws following her wedding ceremony. As a cult-like family tradition goes awry, we see the toppling of a familial line under the hands of the female protagonist. With all the elements of an ‘eat the rich’ Hollywood movie, the film exhibits the rich-hunt-the-poor trope, with the ‘final girl’ escaping a bitter end by the skin of her teeth. The film has an unashamed approach to its subtext, with a blindingly clear ‘eat the rich’ plot and performance. Whilst it lacks subtlety, and thus remains pretty surface level, its comedy and action provide entertainment nonetheless through gore, guns and exploding grandparents.




3) Parasite


The OG of ‘eat the rich’ film depictions is born with Bong Joon-Ho’s, Parasite, starring Lee Sun Kyun, Kang ho Song and Cho Yeo-jeong. The Oscar-winning movie became the highest-grossing non-English film in the UK and one of the highest in the US. The sinister and shocking film sees the poor Kim family slowly and unknowingly infiltrate into the Park family home, like - as the title suggests - a parasite. The movie is not only iconic as a foreign language film that crosses over and meets mainstream success in English speaking cinema, it is arguably the first success of its kind surrounding modern interpretations of ‘eat the rich’ cinema. However, the movie explores a deeper meaning than its simple subtext. It provides a moral dilemma between the traditional ‘eat the rich’ genre with the representation of limitlessly cruel working-class characters targeting a mostly innocent upper-class family. The film does similar to that of Saltburn, as we see the characters lower in class reach the pinnacle of the wealth and class, and ultimately desire to stay there.




4) The Menu


The HBO Max movie, The Menu, by Mark Mylod encapsulates the ‘eat the rich’ genre in an ironic twist to a plot centred around the rich and famous indulging at a famous restaurant. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Nicholas Hoult, and Anya Taylor-Joy, the film is set in an artistic concept restaurant with Chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) delivering a multi-course menu of chaos. The leading lady in this movie, a sex worker, Erin (Anya Taylor-Joy), ultimately leaves the restaurant unscathed, as Chef Julian undergoes a determined journey of self-destruction as the pinnacle of artistic expression – and with this, he brings his followers down with him. The film arguably satirises the wealthy, as they submit to the cult-like following of celebrity. With a darkly extreme play on artistic expression, the ridiculous responses to Chef Julian's courses tragically prove not only his own insanity, but equally the insanity of his fellow diners.


Whilst Erin escapes unscathed, there is a poignancy in her relationship with Julian. Although driven to the brink of senselessness through cult-like celebrity, Chef Julian is at his core a service worker, alike to Erin. His hatred of the diners around him thus creates an interesting complexity between his hatred for them, but equally his initial desire to be one of them. The audience are thus left wondering, is this an 'eat the rich' movie of self-sabotage, or self sacrifice?




5) Triangle of Sadness


The 2022 comedy thriller by Ruben Östlund stars Woody Harrelson, Dolly De Leon, and rising star Harris Dickenson. The film follows the classic maximalist wealth to minimalist poverty trope as an exclusive yacht trip goes awry at the mercy of poor weather. Triangle of Sadness takes a similar approach to that of Saltburn through satirical representation of the wealthy and fashionable elite class; we witness an uncomfortably comedic bout of sea sickness awash the upper class in their own vomit. As a result of the unpredictability that is the weather in the Bermuda Triangle, the characters are shipwrecked on a desert island. Whilst the film may not follow the stereotypical ‘eat the rich' trope, the film deconstructs the typical class system in a Lord of the Flies situation. Fashion models sit at the bottom of the island hierarchy and maids tower at the top, as practical skills prove their value over the superficiality of looks and the redundancy of money. However, unlike most ‘eat the rich’ films, Triangle of Sadness does not culminate with the complete destruction of the rich and the triumph of the poor. Instead, it ends on a cliff-hanger that provides a sliver of hope for the reconstruction of the typical class system, and potential devastation for the maid-turned-leader Abigail.

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