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"Velvet Buzzsaw" - strong satire on the world of fine art, a netflix premiere in Sundance


“Critique is so limiting and emotionally draining.” - Morf Vandewalt


Uninspired, a total lack of originality, derivative, void of spiritual awareness. These are only a few of the harsh critiques that Gyllenhaal fires off as he moves briskly from scene to scene, emoting in such a way that we have not seen from the Nightcrawler actor.


Dan Gilroy and Jake Gyllenhaal reunite for a brutally comedic satire on the world of fine art. They cover art’s destructive nature, the celebration of disturbing artists, the impossibility of separating the artist from the art, and the consequences of monetization all while visually stimulating the audience with out of this world hallucinations.


Gyllenhaal plays Morf Vandewalt, a passionate bi-sexual art critic that can’t help but deliver his opinion on everything from a classic Freud, to the quality of a man’s coffin. His critiques are brutally honest, and his moral compass is consistent. He articulates with a briskness that a refined art critic would be proud of. Once again, he proves that he is one of the premier actors in Hollywood.


The film makes you question the validity of opinion but shows the intricate difference between taste and bullshit. It brings to light just how important critics are to the world of art. A bad review can utterly devastate the hard work that is poured into a piece, while a glowing review can fuel a career. Gilroy shows us just how much artists thirst for this validation, not just for personal gratification, but for economic security. This toxicity surely should not go unpunished.


The cast of the film should be enough to convince any cinephile to give it a chance and the execution will surely please. The supporting cast includes powerful performances from Zawe Ashton, Rene Russo, John Malkovich, Daveed Diggs, and Toni Collette. Together they string a thrilling web of despair and pretentious anxiety.


Art gallery oners glide between characters as the audience naturally connects their relationships to each other. Every actor blends perfectly into the world of fine art. Through performance, they satirize the world without outright disrespecting it, which can be a difficult niche to find. They seem to do so successfully by being innocently unaware of their absurdities creating an irony that lasts from beginning to end. They’re intertwined lives stir up enough drama to fill a feature, yet that is not all there is to the film.


The plot unfolds dualistically. On one hand, you get a deep dive into their entangled history with each other, while on the other you’re senses are viscously attacked by surreal circumstances. Never does one supersede the other. Both aspects of the film live amongst each other, complementing their respective progressions. Every aspect is connected abstractly giving the viewer a feeling of elation throughout. The surreal intrusions blend with the anxieties of the subjects in such a way that leaves you floating through the story until you reach its bitter conclusion.


Of all the films I’ve seen so far, this one is by far the best. Please, do not go and watch the trailer. It gives up most of the secrets in the movie. I had no idea what to expect going in and I came out elated and refreshed. I just took a peek at the trailer and it is sure to dampen your experience. The film will, fortunately, be released in a couple days on Netflix. Watch it right away! Then watch it again.


Written by: Cameron Lui



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