[Review] Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
A feared critic, an icy gallery owner, and an ambitious assistant snap up a recently deceased artist’s stash of paintings – with dire consequences. Velvet Buzzsaw is a satirical thriller set in the contemporary art world scene of Los Angeles, where big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce. Velvet Buzzsaw is a 2019 American satirical supernatural horror thriller film written and directed by Dan Gilroy and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen, and John Malkovich.
Some viewers might think Velvet Buzzsaw rather complicated. But if you watch it for what it is, you may discover that Gilroy simply wants to portray that art is art and that it should not be valued by money, like it has these days. The film also pokes fun at the art world’s pretentions and how art has become about money, not the appreciation of an individual’s creative talent and art for art’s sake. There’s also a hint of what could happen if you don’t honor an artist’s work. I think the main thing he’s trying to convey is what goes on in the world of art and how many people profit from selling it to some eccentric millionaire.
What I thought was most interesting was the fact that all of the characters reaped their just rewards based on their devious actions involving their parts in the art world. Or the fact that an artist pours their heart and soul, their deep-set emotions and illusions into a piece of art, for it to only get treated by a chic and popular value and exploited, without any full appreciation at all on what’s behind it. The ending I thought went well, nothing climatic, but played out well enough.
So basically, Velvet Buzzsaw is about a diverse group of people in the art world and their greed and cruel treatment of others, all in which leads to their doom. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the part of Morf Vandewalt, an incredibly shallow and dismissive art critic who is well known for his brutal critiques. His reviews are the type that will either make or break the artist, and he shows no remorse in doing so. Jake eventually develops a bizarre obsession with a collection of art created by Vetril Dease, a completely unknown artist who is discovered dead by Morf’s on again, off again, girlfriend Josephina.
Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo) owns a prestigious art gallery. Over the years she has become a greedy, cutthroat and fierce woman. Josephina (Zawe Ashton) is one of her employees who have high hopes of moving up in the art world to make a name for herself but personal issues cause Rhodora to not trust her commitment in the company. Rhodora tells Josephina that she will no longer be working with her clients until she proves herself worthy of doing so. Josephina naturally becomes distraught and desperate to redeem herself.
One day as she’s leaving her apartment building Josephina spots a cane on the floor under a balcony. Looking up she notices an arm hanging off the floor above her. She runs up to investigate and discovers that there is a man lying dead on the floor. After calling the police Josephina checks her mailbox and comes in contact with a man that appears to be working, removing the dead man’s name from his mailbox.
They strike up a conversation and he discloses to Josephina that the dead man had strict instructions to destroy everything in his apartment that is are, upon his death. But as she heads back to her apartment she finds the dead man’s door open and goes inside. Upon entering, she discovers thousands of pieces of disturbing artwork that belonged to the dead man. Josephina takes the paintings and decided to pass them off as her own discovery. She then tells people that she is the representative of this artwork. After that, it’s all downhill for the players.
An eerie ghost story regarding haunted art pieces which should never have been taken. And the perfect victims who intended to profit from the cursed pieces in the first place.
Honestly, I enjoyed this film, and I know many won’t but that’s their loss for not getting it. Gilroy had a wonderful cast at his disposal, with other greats such as Toni Collette and John Malkovich, making appearances as supporting roles. Gyllenhaal over the top great and very clever as Morf, the critic who critiques everything in his personal life the same as he views art. This is not a mainstream movie. And as I stated, it is not designed to appeal to everyone.
This movie is for creative thinking people. Its main focus is on the tortured soul of an artist with those who would seek to profit from his misery. The screenplay is impressively well written, and I found myself grossly engaged in it no matter what was happening, even at a particularly uninteresting scene, due mainly to the fact that all of the characters within seemed very devoted to their roles and played their parts very, very well.
Title: Velvet Buzzsaw
Release Date: January 27, 2019
Runtime: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Studio: Netflix Studios
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Zawe Ashton
MPAA Rated: R
Director(s): Dan Gilroy
Reviewed by: Grim Magazine
Our Rating: 3.2 /5
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