PVT Chat: Film Review

PVT Chat

Julia Fox stars as an online dominatrix who becomes the victim of an obsessive customer in Ben Hozie‘s annoyingly titled PVT Chat.

*MILD SPOILERS*

Fox plays Scarlet, a dominatrix cam girl who claims to live in San Francisco. One of her most frequent and well-paying customers is Jack (Peter Vack), a lonely and sad gambler in New York who plays blackjack for a living and has hardly any friends, so he turns to cam girls for conversation as well as to fulfil his sexual desires, which include being verbally abused as he jerks off. He becomes obsessed with Scarlet, particularly once he stumbles across her in a Chinatown bodega and realises she doesn’t live in California at all.

The film begins with Jack’s perspective, with us only seeing Scarlet on the screen of his laptop, and then about halfway through, it flips and gives us an insight into Scarlet’s life; who she is off the camera and outside of her dominatrix persona. This perspective switch was a great technique and I liked that we, as the audience, only saw Scarlet as her cam girl self – the same way Jack only gets to see her – in the beginning, before being shown this whole other side of her. Camming is just what she does to make money and she uses Jack’s obsession to her advantage in that regard.

I was excited about this premise because it felt like a recipe for a deliciously dark and gritty third act so I was ultimately disappointed. I had an idea of where it was going to go – or where I wanted it to go – and it didn’t go there, although I should probably give it praise for not going down the obvious path and taking the audience by surprise. The direction the story took towards the end was unexpected but also less impactful; I felt really meh about it and didn’t really understand what the ending meant. If you can call ‘just stopping’ an ending, that is. I really hate ambiguous endings and this is a prime example of one.

Even though I knew this was an erotic drama and would probably have a lot of sexual content, this was way more explicit than I was prepared for! There’s a lot of penis shots and some on-camera full-frontal male masturbation, which I naively thought – based on my outdated BBFC ratings knowledge – wasn’t allowed in 18 films. Clearly, I was wrong! Kudos to Vack for having the bravery to do that on film! He does well as this desperate, sad, loner type who is into some weird s**t, while Fox, who was a dominatrix for six months while she was in high school in real life, brings her sex appeal as on-camera Scarlet and more vulnerability and humanity as off-camera Scarlet.

PVT Chat – I really hate the title – is a scuzzy and dirty low-budget erotic drama with two strong lead performances. I will happily watch more films that explore the relationship between a cam girl and her clientele but this particular movie didn’t work for me story-wise.

Released on digital platforms from Friday 12th February

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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