Director: Dan Gilroy
Release Date: Feb. 1 (Netflix)
Only weeks removed from Netflix original Birdbox, it’s easy to believe that the people running the streaming service thought Velvet Buzzsaw would cause the same frenzy across the internet. Sadly that was not the case. There hasn’t been much chatter about Velvet Buzzsaw since its Feb. 1 release.
Velvet Buzzsaw takes place in the Los Angeles art scene. Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a well-respected art critic. He bounces from from art shows with his full-time friend and part-time lover Josephina (Zawe Ashton). Both of them work for Rhodora Haze, an art gallery owner stationed in Miami Beach.
The film finally takes a turn when Josephina returns to her Los Angeles apartment and stumbles across a dead man in her complex. The neighbor was an unknown independent artist by the name of Vertil Dease. Dease was clearly a magnificent painter. His paintings ranged from self-portraits, to color-passionate painting streaks to haunting images. Excited about what she has discovered, Josephina decides it’s a good idea to bring the dead neighbor’s paintings out of his apartment and show them to Morf and Rhondora. Of course, once the paintings leave their natural habitat they come to life and start causing chaos and danger to those around the paintings.
Jake Gyllenhaal gives us his usual great performance playing a bisexual art critic, something that not everyone would be open to or capable of performing with such ease. As for Rene Russo, I can’t say the same. She stars as the typical rude art gallery owner, but we never fully get a grasp on her, from her relationships to her life, nothing. All we know is that she has Velvet Buzzsaw tattooed on her back its the name of her old punk rock band but we don’t know what it’s importance is until damn near the last scene.
In a year that Netflix had a couple of massive hits such as Birdbox, Roma, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, you would think that anything starring Jake Gyllenhaal would fall right into that great category.
A movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Dan Gilroy Velvet Buzzsaw had something good in place. Gilroy directed the 2014 thriller Nightcrawler, which, at the time, was arguably Gylenhaul’s best performance to date. Sadly 2019’s reunion was a disaster. Velvet Buzzsaw attempted to have an unsettling and uncomfortable feel to it, whether through the hauntings of old paintings or the unease of an older neighbor dying. Whatever it was, it was not effective.