The first trailer for the highly anticipated Velvet Buzzsaw has finally arrived, and the new Netflix original film appears to be as thrilling as it is funny.
Directed by Nightcrawler's Dan Gilroy and starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Morf Vandewalt, a superficial art critic in Los Angeles, Velvet Buzzsaw tells the story of the art world as it is shook by a mysterious metaphysical force controlling a handful of paintings by an unknown artist. For the role of Vandewalt, Gyllenhaal reportedly did his homework while in Los Angeles last year, and inserted himself into the art scene as "research."
Gilroy's thriller is a satirical take on high society, aestheticism, and capitalist greed. Toss in some possessed paintings that reveal the truth about its owners, and the protagonist's eventual descent into madness, and Velvet Buzzsaw starts to sound eerily reminiscent of The Picture of Dorian Gray, but with a contemporary twist. The moral of the story this time around appears to be: Don't be a greedy scoundrel or the artwork will bite back.
The cast of Velvet Buzzsaw—rounded out by Tom Sturridge, Zawe Ashton, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Natalia Dyer, John Malkovich, Billy Magnussen, and Daveed Diggs, in addition to Gyllenhaal—is undeniably stacked, and will serve as a big old Netflix reunion for some. Collette and Ashton costarred in the Netflix series Wanderlust, about a therapist (played by the former) looking to open up her marriage; Malkovich was recently seen in Bird Box; Dyer is best known for her starring role on Stranger Things; and let's not forget that Gyllenhaal underwent a serious facial hair transformation for his role in Okja.
Audiences and voting academies were already taking Netflix seriously, especially after Dee Rees's Mudbound grabbed attention with Oscar nominations last year, and Alfonso Cuarón's semiautobiographical Roma was co-released on the platform and on the big screen this season. Velvet Buzzsaw seems to be aiming for some of that same critical acclaim, and will premiere at Sundance Film Festival before it hits Netflix on February 1.