Velvet Buzzsaw Movie Review – Watched 02/03/2019

Xen made me, am I not beautiful?

I’ve seen a few reviews for this film talking about “satire” and using big words to say that they didn’t like this film. I’m probably in the last 10 per cent of people that really enjoyed this film, and I’m finding it hard to agree with the critics about it.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is that this film is a Dan Gilroy movie and he both wrote and directed this. And I’ve been a huge fan ever since his work on Nightcrawler which was a pretty intense experience for me. The first time I watched it, I was blown away by its brutality and boldness. Dan Gilroy is very good at delivering the content you can lose yourself in. The second reason is Jake Gyllenhaal. I think it’s fair to say that I’m a big fan. He’s an actor that I think is on the verge of doing something massive – and I am still a little bitter he got ignored entirely for his role as Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler, but anyway, back to Velvet Buzzsaw.

So now you know the “why” behind why I love this film. I also don’t give more than four-star ratings to many movies at all. I reserve the fours and the five stars for the films that move me, whether that be to tears or to fits of rage, if a movie has an effect on me, on my thoughts after the fact, it’s worthy of a rating that reflects that.

Velvet Buzzsaw - Still 1

Velvet Buzzsaw is apparently a slang term for a sexually explicit act and while I’m still trying to figure out what connection that has to the film, the phrase itself is pretty catchy. If you’re naturally curious like I am, you’ll be drawn to something that stands out, something that sounds abnormally interesting. You’ll want to know more. Welcome to my world. The phrase does also have a different connection to the film, but I won’t spoil things for you if you want to understand why it’s called “Velvet Buzzsaw” you’ll have to watch it 😉

The focus of the film is the filthy rich people of high society in Los Angeles who are connected in the art world. An art critic (Gyllenhaal), a dead artist, an art gallery owner (Russo) and her personal assistant (Ashton) make up the players telling the story. For lack of a better word, I’d definitely classify Gyllenhaal as the protagonist but to choose an antagonist would be difficult because, at some point, everyone becomes the bad guy. But that’s all I’ll say about that.

The violence is relentless, and I do urge caution to anyone that’s squeamish because some of the scenes are pretty bloodthirsty. And again, this should be enough to get you out of your seat wanting more, particularly if you’re a fan of horrors or thrillers. Some critics have pointed out that the horror element is lacking or not very “horrific”. I disagree. I think the horror elements in Velvet Buzzsaw is intentional and direct and paints the picture (excuse the pun) perfectly, without over-doing it. It’s certainly not subtle in any way, but then again, this is a Dan Gilroy movie. And the horror is part of the journey, as the clouds and the sun can be part of a piece of art. Without certain elements present, your recipe will be missing something crucial, something that can only add flavour if it’s done in a certain way. Dan Gilroy smashes the ball out of the park with this as far as I’m concerned.


All in all, this film is about how greed, manipulation, power and money can make horrible people out of just about any one, even those that seem to be more or less untouched by the cruelty and malice of the social circles they inhabit. The horror element is just one film-makers way of showing how ugliness always finds a way to the surface, even if it requires a supernatural element mixed in with an artist’s pain to do so. Doesn’t that paint a curious picture?

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