NETFLIX REVIEW: Capitalism is a horror show in Velvet Buzzsaw

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Fashionista before the fall, Jake Gyllenhaal, is excellent in this art-world horror that is arresting but as empty as the fleek capitalism it critiques Picture: Supplied
Fashionista before the fall, Jake Gyllenhaal, is excellent in this art-world horror that is arresting but as empty as the fleek capitalism it critiques Picture: Supplied

Velvet Buzzsaw
Available at Netflix SA
Three stars

Horror is the fashionable new site for political satire and the archvillain in the stylised, slick and empty new Netflix Original film Velvet Buzzsaw is Capitalism On Fleek.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo are fabulous leads, particularly Gyllenhaal who teeters between gay and bi as he totters between hero and arsehole. He’s the planet’s most powerful art critic; she’s its most ruthless art dealer. Opening on Art Basel, Miami Beach, we recognise the fake-assery and culture of display of the gallery system at once. There’s even an anaemic and vacuous white male hipster South African gallerist to remind us where we are.

Like De Beers falsely elevated the price of diamonds, this is a world where image sells and scarcity determines value. Everyone is chasing the next big thing. Until the next big thing chases them back – in this case the possessed art of a dead and very twisted painter who used human blood in the work.

Everything was going well, everything was set up just right for the action to unfurl, and with it the political punch of, say, Get Out. But, as it drips to its close, you realise you’ve been cheated.

Velvet Buzzsaw weaves its action and its many horror movie references with style but no substance. It becomes an empty and very pretty thriller and your toes will curl at the many delicious ways there are to kill a capitalist. But it never closes on its messages, just damns the art world with very little nuance. Of course, you should watch it anyway, because it’s gripping and hilarious. But it has inflated its price tag.


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