1 February 2019 | kjproulx
Ambitious, But Underwhelming
Ever since the release of Nightcrawler back in 2014, Dan Gilroy is a director that I've wanted to keep a sharp eye on. I'll admit I wasn't a big fan of his film Roman J. Israel Esq., but I was still impressed by his talent, enough to continue watching his future projects. Velvet Buzzsaw is his latest work that he both wrote and directed and while I did enjoy some of it, this director only has one home run in my book, which still remains to be Nightcrawler. Some viewers may find this film to be pretentious and others may find it elegant, which will stir up a great conversation, but I personally found that it fell somewhere in the middle. If you're a fan of a unique premises, you may want to check this one out.
There isn't really a main character here, but it could be argued that the central focus of the film is on Jake Gyllenhaal's Morf. After the passing of an elderly man, his paintings are discovered and put on display for all to see. To their surprise, these paintings have minds of their own and they begin to seek revenge against those who study them in the wrong ways. Personally, the concept of this film intrigued me upon first glance, but after watching the film unfold, it felt like more of a way of finding viewers for the movie as a whole. The bizarre turn this film takes didn't feel earned by the time the film concludes. With a strong first act and a weird second act, this movie lost all potential throughout the third.
I must admit that this is one of the better assembled casts I've seen in a long time. From powerhouses like Jake Gyllenhaal and Toni Collette to the always outstanding performances given by both John Malkovich and Rene Russo, down to stellar newcomers like Natalia Dyer and Daveed Diggs, I found myself engaged no matter what was happening throughout an uninteresting scene, due to the fact that they're clearly all devoted. If for nothing else, this cast believed they were making something terrific and it really shows in each and every one of their performances.
Sadly, as I mentioned, this film as a very weak third act that went in many ways that felt easy for the movie to go. Aside from some very cool visuals and great cinematography throughout the entire film, the story, in retrospect, kind of went nowhere. I could see where director Dan Gilroy was trying to go and the final scene of the film definitely showcases an interesting future for the story, but I wasn't engaged in the story enough to care all that much. The characters invested me from the very beginning and the twist pulled me in even more, but the movie unravels in a way that frankly bored me.
In the end, Velvet Buzzsaw is an ambitious film in terms of the notions that it tries to explore and wow its audience with, but I was underwhelmed by it as a whole. I definitely commend the technical aspects of it and the set-up was very well done, so I can recommend it to film buffs, but I truly don't believe this film will find a home outside of that circle. I could be wrong, but I feel this movie is for a very niche audience. Velvet Buzzsaw is an impressively ambitious film that feels a little wasted by the end.