Review: Raw 'PVT Chat' explores online companionship
Courtesy of DarkStar Pictures
Ben Hozie’s raw and unfiltered “PVT Chat” explores online companionship in a time where society is more disconnected than ever. “Uncut Gems” breakout Julia Fox headlines Hozie’s erotica drama that lingers well after it's over for obvious reasons. Fox showcases a wide array of emotions playing San Francisco cam girl, Scarlet who’s one of many lonely suitors, Jack (Peter Vack) becomes obsessed with her.
But Jack doesn’t care about Scarlet in the sexual, perverted way, he wants to understand the girl behind the character. Scarlet makes decent tips playing a dominatrix in the minds of all those who log on for a quick release, but underneath lies an aspiring painter struggling to make ends meet. Hozie explores this, admittedly charming, dynamic between Scarlet and Ben throughout “PVT Chat,” helping understand how these two came to be. For reasons unexplained, Jack is heavily into online gambling (and he’s pretty good) but that doesn’t explain rent getting paid or the consistency with which he gives Scarlet monster tips.
He also lies to Scarlet about aspects of life, giving the aurora of being wealthy despite his landlord kicking him out, and the dude is one screw loose of being certifiably insane thanks to Vack’s unhinged performance. Meanwhile, Scarlet’s financial situation isn’t peachy either, and the more Hozie unravels her predictable backstory, “PVT Chat” becomes a game of cat and mouse and who is going to keep the charade going until someone finally cracks or gets hurt.
Thankfully Hozie doesn’t take his film into exploitation, tortrue porn territory, keeping the focus with online addiction and the expectations we put on people we’ve never met as opposed to the alternative. “PVT Chat” is a lingering exercise into the transactional nature of the relationships we try to procure. The final scene won’t easily be forgotten, but this observational drama studies the doomed art of persuasion to moderate success. And with Fox in the driver seat, there’s something worth talking about.
PVT CHAT is now playing in theaters and will be available on-digital/demand Tuesday, February 9th.