Jake Gyllenhaal plays a haughty critic with a bad haircut in Netflix’s upcoming thriller Velvet Buzzsaw, about the perils of greed, the art world, and stealing paintings from a creepy old guy who died without friends or family. (A word of advice: Don’t.) As the trailer opens, Gyllenhaal squints into the camera, presumably admiring some art, and after some consideration, utters, “Critique is so limiting and emotionally draining.” Okay?
But his discerning eye cannot help him when it comes to supernatural forces that haunt paintings and cause them to move and, on at least one occasion, propel chimps’ arms to jump out and grab people by the neck. “There is some sort of power, some spirit, that is connected to his art,” a very distressed Gyllenhaal says. “Something truly goddamn strange!” What’s strange is how is overwrought his acting and how over-the-top the ominous music is. This trailer has all the trimmings of a cunning, dark drama—drab tones, shadows, and a lot of jump-cuts juxtaposed with colorful, ironic typography—but I’m having a hard time taking the painting of the chimps coming to life and trying to strangle someone seriously.
Is this another attempt by Gyllenhaal to prove he’s a Serious Actor, a la Night Crawler and Nocturnal Animals? (Velvet Buzzsaw was also written and directed by Dan Gilroy, who also did Night Crawler.) Only time will tell if he succeeds; Velvet Buzzsaw is out on February 1. This all reminds me to rewatch his best movie, The Day After Tomorrow, sometime soon.