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Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Review

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Released on February 1st, Velvet Buzzsaw is a new Netflix thriller film directed by Dan Gilroy. Gilroy made his directing debut with Nightcrawler, a highly critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated film that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo, just a few years ago. Buzzsaw reunites Gilroy, Gyllenhaal, and Russo for yet another project together that explores the darker elements of the art world and the greed that surrounds it.

First and foremost, Velvet Buzzsaw establishes a set of diverse characters with several unique motives and roles. There are multiple notable actors within the film, and their portrayals fit seamlessly into Gilroy’s universe. Jake Gyllenhaal provides yet another great performance and makes a smooth shift into this role. He plays a narcissistic art critic named Morf Vandewalt, whose egotistical and god-like view of himself is shared by many in the art industry. Several metaphors and other thematic devices exist within the film as well that highlight the lack of respect for the arts that most of the main characters demonstrate. Coming from Gilroy’s own experience, Buzzsaw reflects the greed and disrespect held by executives and businessmen within the industry today. Buzzsaw also excels in establishing its world with fantastic shots throughout. Especially with Netflix’s 4K HDR quality, every detail is underscored within each shot and is very appealing to the eye. Some of the shots are in unique positions that include the audience within the film’s horrors as well.

Despite creativity and complexity behind Buzzsaw, it does falter in a few areas. Especially in the beginning of the film, Buzzsaw feels oddly paced and is extremely hard for the audience to follow its many side stories. Much information is immediately thrown at the viewers that is difficult to process in the short amount of time that is given. Personally, I would have required subtitles to keep up with all of the film’s events, which would decrease the immersion for the audience. Even though I bragged on Buzzsaw’s memorable shots, most of the film was a plethora of medium shots that was reminiscent of some of Netflix’s many TV series. Despite the fact that I knew I was watching the next film in Gilroy’s emerging discography, it felt underwhelming as a cinematic experience.

All in all, Velvet Buzzsaw is a fine addition to Dan Gilroy’s run as a director. Though it struggled in its beginning and felt a bit bland in some areas, it is not a bad film. Even though Buzzsaw could not top the near perfection of Nightcrawler, it’s a fun ride that is easily accessible within Netflix’s library.

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Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Review