Trudie’s review published on Letterboxd:
The trailer for Velvet Buzzsaw made it look like an energetic and art infused house of horrors set in a museum - a concept I was super into - but it's a bit more self serious than that despite the campy characters and self aware pretentiousness. The film delves into the ideas surrounding commodification in art, while peddling the horror side of things with some enigmatic paintings made by a tragic and illusive painter that the characters can't seem to escape.
There's some interesting ideas at play but ultimately the film feels clunky and the opposite of streamlined, not so much in its editing but in the way it handles the narrative and seems to stretch everything out until it's too thin. You get to know the characters without having a substantial understanding of them and the mystery of the paintings becomes a backburner to everything is the film is doing - which is somehow so much and nothing at all at the same time.
The most dissatisfying of cinematic experiences are the ones where you're left very indifferent and uninformed on what the voice behind the art is trying to say. In some ways this film I think tried to project and be similar in ways to our perceptions of abstract art and the way we critique it, but so little of the movie is solid and tangible.
The fun excitement of the promised artsy horror isn't lived up to and the character work it tries to do is constantly undermined by a lack of interesting structure. The cinematography was also, for me, a bit bland for a film so focused on visual wonders.
Not everything was bad, I just think Velvet Buzzsaw had trouble explaining itself and convincing us of reasons to stick with it. The symbolism was in a lot of ways lost on me. The performances are worthwhile though, and Jake Gyllenhaal's first scene where he's walking like a runway model is hilarious.