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Did Oliver poison Felix, or did he die from drug overdose? It's quite unclear because if Oliver did poison him, why didn't the cops do an autopsy or find the bottle (as shown in one scene) as evidence?

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    The fact that Oliver feels he should hide the bottle does imply at least deliberately doing something to him.
    – iandotkelly
    Jan 5 at 3:16
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    it's pretty clear in the flashback at the end.
    – Luciano
    Jan 5 at 11:51
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    The impression I had from the film is that Felix is already taking drugs, cocaine I believe, and Oliver added more cocaine to the champagne bottle. So even if an autopsy was done and found a cocaine overdose, it would look like an accidental overdose, not a poisoning. Jan 5 at 12:45

2 Answers 2

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The script makes it abundantly clear that Oliver poisoned Felix.

FLASHBACK 2007: the night of the party, Oliver pours a vial of drugs into the champagne bottle and swills it around.

OLDER OLIVER (V.O.): No natural predators.

EXT. SALTBURN - MAZE CENTER - NIGHT FLASHBACK 2007: the moment Oliver turns to throw up and hands Felix the bottle. Oliver waits, hunched over, feigning sickness, until Felix drinks it.

EXT. SALTBURN - LAKE - NIGHT

FLASHBACK 2007: Oliver throws the bottle into the lake.

Saltburn - Screenplay

It's not clear what drugs he used, but there are many that are fatal but not easily detectable, especially in someone who's already been taking a bunch of illicit pharmaceuticals.

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Oliver poisoned Felix.

In talking to the comatose Elspeth towards the end of the film, Oliver states that the rich have "no natural predators... well, almost none..." (meaning they are his prey.) There are then flashbacks of all he did to kill the family and alienate his competition (Farleigh) from them. In one of the flashbacks, you see Oliver dumping something from an ampule into the bottle of champagne he then gives to Felix while he pretends to be sick. Felix takes a drink. You then see Oliver dispose of the evidence, meaning he either waited for Felix to die to take the bottle or he took it before Felix dies, certain of the outcome.

...why didn't the cops do an autopsy?

The family is very rich and know many influential people. Felix's parents think he died of an overdose because Farleigh had brought drugs to the party. The father tells Farleigh that he won't tell the police, but that's all he'll ever do for him again. Though it's not in the film, it's easy to believe that a word from Sir James to the police would quash an autopsy. This also fits nicely with the fact that appearances (and the denial of reality) were everything to the family, and they would likely want to avoid any "unpleasantness" associated with a drug overdose (they don't even suspect a poisoning) as the cause of Felix's death.

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