Film Review – Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Title – Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Director – Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

Cast – Jake Gyllenhaal, Zawe Ashton, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Tom Sturridge, Natalia Dyer, John Malkovich, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen

Plot – When a mysterious Miami artist passes away his paintings become the talk of the town but those responsible for the distribution of the works begin to realise that the artwork holds a nefarious and potentially deadly secret.

“Critique is so limiting and emotionally draining”

Review by Eddie on 08/02/2019

Velvet Buzzsaw is not the film you expect from the re-teaming of Nightcrawler director and star Dan Gilroy and Jake Gyllenhaal.

It’s not even the film you probably expect after watching the seemingly horror centred trailer released by Netflix a few months back, as Gilroy and Gyllenhaal’s newest collaboration is a genuine black-comedy, taking aim and firing shots at the art industry and our modern world that’s filled with critics and money hungry members of the art/entertainment world.

Born out of Gilroy’s own experiences with his unused script for the failed Tim Burton/Nicolas Cage Superman movie that never was, those expecting another thriller in the vein of the brilliant Nightcrawler will be left disappointed by this ensemble piece that is far from commercially focused, as it offers a bizarre journey through a murderous Miami art scene, supernatural occurrences included.

It’s quite shocking just how odd and off-kilter Gilroy’s film is, from the moment we follow Gyllenhaal’s campy Morf Vandewalt through a newly opened exhibition and begin to meet all the other players in this stuck up and self-centred art community, you begin to quickly realize that this is not your typical horror/thriller, it’s a film trying too be many things and undoubtedly too many things at once, as the films focus and attention is frequently sporadic across its 110 minute run-time.

It’s a wonderfully shot film, with Robert Elswit’s colourful cinematography of Miami’s picturesque cityscape and surrounds a highlight, while there are some glorious performances to be found here with Gyllenhaal an as to be expected delight and John Malkovich and Toni Collette having a blast with their supporting turns, but the film is both not funny enough or the scares/horror elements strong enough to make Velvet Buzzsaw the type of hybrid that truly works.

There’s arguably not a single likable character here and the whole concept that Gilroy has based this tale around, that being that art (whatever form) shouldn’t be just about the money isn’t that ground-breaking.

It’s the type of concept that would’ve been perfect for the likes of the Coen Brothers or Wes Anderson but here under Gilroy’s direction becomes quite stale and even at times boring as we eagerly await the demise of next character, of which end up being some of the most creative and visually inventive aspects of the whole film and a highlight of an otherwise tiresome exercise.

Final Say –

An extremely odd film that is more of a straight up comedic satire than a horror mystery, Netflix’s Velvet Buzzsaw has some good moments and nice performances, but is a mostly forgettable ride that will disappoint fans of Gilroy’s and Gyllenhaal’s previous collaboration.

2 Starbucks coffees out of 5    

Mmmmmmm Starbucks

13 responses to “Film Review – Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

  1. I saw this movie a couple days ago, and the trailer sold me. It had an interesting Twilight Zone premise, but unfortunately the movie was nowhere as entertaining as the trailer led me to believe. It was slow, and dull- and I felt like the film became as pretentious as the characters it presents. There’s some creepy moments like with Hoboman and the sphere, but those are so few and far between in the film that even those moments can’t save it.

  2. Agreed generally but I think you’re a bit generous. All the problems for me point to this being another undercooked Netflix movie. At another studio, this script would have been rewritten several more times to fix all these tonal and character problems. Too much creative freedom is not always a good thing.

    • yeh that is a major major problem with Netflix films mate! Roma and a few others are the exception where the freedom worked but a lot of others have failed.

  3. Pingback: The Best and Worst of 2019 | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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