Velvet Buzzsaw

Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Velvet Buzzsaw follows several characters, including art critic Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) and gallery owner Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo), as they find themselves pursued by a sinister force after Zawe Ashton’s Josephina pilfers a series of paintings by a mysterious (and dead) artist. There’s ultimately little doubt that Velvet Buzzsaw has been designed to come off as a trenchant satire of the art world more than a garden-variety horror flick, as Gilroy delivers a slow-moving drama revolving primarily around the comings and goings of these almost uniformly pretentious figures – which ensures that, for much of its 113 minute running time, the picture suffers from a decidedly erratic feel that is, admittedly, alleviated by a sporadically amusing atmosphere and a selection of top-notch performances (with Gyllenhaal, in terms of the latter, turning in consistently engaging and thoroughly fascinating work as an often astonishingly pompous individual). The sporadic inclusion of appreciatively gory bits of business elevates the proceedings on a continuing basis, to be sure, and yet it’s hard to deny that Velvet Buzzsaw, for the most part, doesn’t possess much in the way of forward momentum – which ultimately does cement its place as a watered-down satire that’s rarely greater than the sum of its parts.

**1/2 out of ****

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