Slices of Art

Velvet Buzzsaw

Film. Presented during the Sundance Film Festival, the new film of Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) is a satire of the contemporary Art world and turns into a horror movie without finding its genre. Explanations.


By Quentin Moyon

Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhal), art critic as famous as feared, makes and undoes the contemporary Art. While the galéristes, commissioners of exhibitions and other “art advisors” who gravit around him, seem to evaluate master piece only through his eyes. This microcosm is shaken by the discovery of the pieces of Deaser, a painter who was found dead in strange circumstances. Behind the ecstasy of his work, there is a hiden mystery that could cause their death …

A satire of the contemporary art world and turns into a horror movie

After criticizing the television world in NightCrawler, Dan Gilroy and Jake Gyllenhall tackle the one of Art. And the attack is frontal, portraying its actors as exuberant hypocrites, ambitious to succeed. Gilroy magnifies so much the line, that The Square, the 2017 Golden Palm, will almost become a contemporary pro-Art film. 

But this satire is kind of cliché and mechanical (a galériste is ecstatic on a pile in the studio of an artist, who must reveal to him that in fact it is the garbages …). And turns out to be a simple and long exhibition of characters and works that will kill them. The scenes closing the first part, centered on the discovery of Deaser’s paintings, is really worrying. And this might be the only horrific and interesting moment from the movie.

Then, the director fight to frighten his audience, but the strings are too visible. He quickly gives up on his work on the atmosphere to chain scenes of murders built on the same pattern : rising tension, jump scare, change of character and we start again. The second part is nothing but a monotonous body count with a naive morality despite the talent of the actors (John Malkovitch, Tony Colette, Rene Russo…). In short, a movie that has all the qualities of a Netflix production : strong characters in a clearly defined universe.Its faults : a predictable narration with a lack of form (a height for a film about Art).