Zawe Ashton & Jake Gyllenhaal

Satirical, Artsy, and Fun

Velvet Buzzsaw presents itself as a film that pokes fun at those who appreciate big pocketbooks more instead of enjoying the art they’re selling. The film is fun, creepy, artsy, well-acted and directed. Velvet Buzzsaw is a joy to watch largely in part of how good the cast is but also how well written the film is.

Seeing Dan Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rene Russo reunited again both entertained and delighted. Jake and Rene’s chemistry on screen blossoms organically and comes as a wonderful sight for the eyes. Overall the casting and writing shines through this film to the point where the flaws retreat to the shadows, easily overlooked.

The hilarity, creepiness, and beautiful artwork keeps your eyes glued to the screen. For those looking for a more thrilling or scary film then I regret to inform you that you should look elsewhere. The trailers show it as more thrilling and scarier than what the film actual is. Velvet Buzzsaw appears more as creepy satire than thrilling and scary. Don’t let that turn you away though; Velvet Buzzsaw still entertains and delivers a well-rounded fun cinematic experience.

Jake Gyllenhaal is savvy and eccentric

Rene Russo & Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal plays the role of a savvy, intelligent, and eccentric art reviewer who is both loved and feared by artists and gallery owners alike. With Jake’s performance and Gilroy’s writing/directing, the film exudes fun and artsy.

Now while the film reunites Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rene Russo who all worked together on Nightcrawler, Velvet Buzzsaw doesn’t carry the same flare and spice. That said, the cast in Velvet Buzzsaw adorns the movie like a beautiful feather placed in a fancy well-worn hat.

The cast includes: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Toni Collette, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Diggs, and John Malkovich. When it comes to casting, Netflix has been going all out as of late. Everyone in Velvet Buzzsaw puts on a wonderful performance, so much so that you will find yourself eye rolling at some of the fancy elitist dialogue. But, don’t take the eye rolling as a bad thing. Rather, it remarks on the film’s excellent direction and writing.

The cinematography of Velvet Buzzsaw is wonderfully executed. The lighting and placements of the art show off and bring the art pieces to the forefront. Director/writer Dan Gilroy delivers on all fronts in Velvet Buzzsaw with his wonderful direction and writing. The artwork in the film sits beautifully displayed on walls and gets time to shine. The CGI, some of the best Netflix has done, doesn’t impress. It certainly refreshes, however.

The Meat and Potatoes

It might sound a tad pretentious to say an art film is artsy but Velvet Buzzsaw is very artsy and in the right ways. It delivers to keep the audience entertained. To put the premise simply, the film is about a mysterious dead artist and how his art murders the elite and greedy who only sees dollar signs instead of appreciating or admiring the art.  

Jake graces the screen as the eccentric, intelligent, and passionate art reviewer who looks deeper into art and artist. Velvet Buzzsaw’s pacing runs solid and steady. It does take a bit of time for the film to get to the wild and crazy side. But, the performance and writing are so spot on that you’re entertained and almost forget that something wild and creepy is supposed to happen.

We Just Wanna Poke Fun

One of the things the Velvet Buzzsaw does so well is its satirical nature is written wonderfully where you will laugh at the obviousness of the truth about the industry. With that said though the film pokes fun at the pretentious elite while showing love to artist.

Now, poking fun at the art industry isn’t anything new and plenty of films have done it, but Velvet Buzzsaw does possess its own identity. The film blends hilarity with creepiness but never really hits the mark as being thrilling. There’s not enough fast-paced plot points or scenes that will make anything you’re seeing particularly thrilling. The film gives you enough back story to follow the pacing, but you never truly get an explanation of the creepiness, it’s really left to the audience’s interpretation but at the same time its pretty obvious to get the message the film is trying to convey.

Rene Russo plays the part of the artist who lost her way and only cares about profits and selling tickets to her gallery. The chemistry between Rene and Jake really treats audiences on the screen. Indeed, it was a great Nightcrawler reunion. John Malkovich has very little screen time, but his screen time is not wasted at all. The cast is excellent in every scene and they make the film beyond worthwhile.

Daveed Diggs & John Malkovich

Stumbling Blocks

Even with such a good cast though the film still has a few stumbles. While watching the film is very entertaining and well shot, you still don’t care about the characters. Now, the argument could be had that the only character that matters in the film is the actual artwork. That would be a solid argument, but still you don’t really feel any real attachments to the characters onscreen. The artists in the film have such little screen time that you can’t fully care about them or the decisions that they make. Where the film lacks in character development it supplements in hilarity.

The jokes land in just about every scene that has comedic relief.  Velvet Buzzsaw tries to take the audience on a brief dive into the art world and how crazy it is that some people lose sight on what art really means and not just focus on profits and selling tickets. But, given the satirical nature of the film, it opts in hilarity and creepiness to get its deep message across. Velvet Buzzsaw’s ending stays on pace with the rest of the film and concludes its message in an obvious way but still leaves it up to the audience’s interpretation.

Conclusion

Overall, Velvet Buzzsaw is absolutely worth the watch just for the cast alone. The film is one that was made while having a good time. You see actors having fun with their characters on the screen. Netflix once again shows they can deliver quality content that’s worth having the subscription. If you’re looking for a hilarious yet creepy film, then this one is the one to watch. The trailers sell the film as more thrilling and creepy, but the film offers more hilarity than what the trailers show.

Final thoughts: 8/10


Mark Steger as The Hoboman

No after credits scene but there is a scene during the credits.

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