Too much focus on design, vision, and story, has swept Velvet Buzzsaw away from its roots
Velvet Buzzsaw is a mainline film production offering the chance to imagine the ultimate piece of art, critiquing the art world as a whole. Yet, most bizarrely, as a final outcome, the film is decidedly normal, becoming a less than impactful horror with only a few actual horror elements, choosing to show huge love for its (admittedly wonderful) leading cast instead.
Discovering her neighbours dead body brings gallery worker Josephina (Zawe Ashton) immense opportunity, as she poses upon his now owner-less artwork. Fabricating their discovery in the bins outside her apartment block, Josephina drags the whole world into embracing the engrossing artwork she now has to sell, turning normality on its head. Fronted by leading critic Morf Vanderwalt (Jake Gyllenhaal), the artist Dease’s work gains critical acclaim instantly, yet beyond the brush strokes hides a secret that changes the way those involved will ever look at art again.
There seems to be a constant struggle with how to display both the art and the performances in shot, with the cinematography failing to express either in its futile attempts at balance. Too much focus on design, vision, and story, has swept Velvet Buzzsaw away from its roots, failing to hold its own as a horror film. Far too much of the action feels like a standalone drama, rather than part of a larger picture, with deep insight into how art works and how thin the line between quality and trash actually is. Clashes between those high up is inevitable in any industry, and Director Dan Gilroy doesn’t quite seem to make the art world feel different when compared to those other, less volatile, industries.
The elite nature of art does seem to be what’s missing, so when the horror tropes kick in, there’s little individuality or fresh feeling to the unfolding events. That isn’t to suggest that there are no positives, but it does give off a residing feeling that Velvet Buzzsaw absolutely isn’t the film it needed to be.
Jake Gyllenhaal offers a genius character creation yet again, clambering to most of the limelight, but in Velvet Buzzsaw’s case, most of that is because of his character’s egotistical personality, not because he outshines the rest of the cast. The cast as a whole is actually a strong unit, and that does supply the film with the majority of its positive impact.
Too normal, and too generic, Velvet Buzzsaw never lives up to its ridiculous name, falling into the trap a lack of balance will always bring. Offering huge initial appeal and wonder, it quickly drops into anonymity, and never brings itself back up. There’s no terrible elements to its creation, but there’s also a complete lack of excellence in every single corner of its art loving nature, and that shows glaringly.
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