Many artists pour their soul in to their creations…what if these souls could bite back?
Satire meets the supernatural in VELVET BUZZSAW – a welcome reunion of writer/director Dan Gilroy and actor Jake Gyllenhaal after the electric NIGHTCRAWLER (2014).
Released by Netflix, BUZZSAW is available on member’s screens now.
Fans of NIGHTCRAWLER may have been surprised upon seeing the BUZZSAW trailer and witnessing Gilory’s apparent ascent from L.A. underbelly to its glossy and superficial elite. Yet, only minutes past the opening credits, we realise Gilroy has transported us to a world that – despite the bright lights – is no less toxic and depraved; here we find the meeting point of art and commerce.
In a deliciously witty and malicious opening sequence, we strut through an art opening alongside the highly revered (by himself as much as others) critic Morf Vandewalt – played an unapologetically flamboyant Jake Gyllenhaal. Much like the mercurial nature of the art industry itself, the camera flits from character to character, and we are introduced to a plethora of pretentious individuals – all with their own dark, greedy agendas masked by wisely chosen words, high fashion and flashy smiles.
Things get strange when Morf’s new ‘squeeze’ discovers eerily hypnotic art left behind by a dead neighbour. Despite the deceased’s explicit wishes to have his works destroyed, the vipers of the art-world slither in, peddling his compelling creations to the highest bidder. As the tragic and violent past of the dead artist comes to light, the art itself begins to exact its revenge upon those whose artistic integrity has been corrupted by greed… it is also at this point that audiences divide.
With a strong cast lead by Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, and John Malcovich, Gilroy’s Robert Altman-like large ensemble cast is in good hands. While each of the seven(ish) main characters have to battle for screen time, they all maintain a strong presence. It does result in a narrative that is slightly disjointed, and leaves some characters feeling a little ‘under-explored’. However, this is also an accurate reflection of the shallow nature of such high-flying business…just how well would these shallow, morally hollow individuals have known each other really?
Cinematography by Robert Elswit (THERE WILL BE BLOOD) borders on perfect, and composer Marco Beltrami offers spooky undertones to highlight the drama. All in all, Gilroy has helmed a slick, enthralling and highly entertaining film. Yet it’s playful willingness to delve unashamedly in to the supernatural horror realm may alienate those who are expecting a more gritty and raw NIGHTCRAWLER-esque resolution based firmly in reality.
Brilliantly acted, devilishly funny and unashamedly playful, VELVET BUZZSAW is a tonne of fun – even if the choice to go “all out supernatural” is a little undermining to its intelligent exposition.
I rate it 7.5 stars.