August 24, 2020

GENRE | Julia Fox Dominates 'PVT Chat' x Fantasia 2020

"It's gonna cost you."
Julia Fox | PVT Chat | Fantasia International Film Festival 2020
Fantasia International Film Festival
Brooklyn indie rock band Bodega frontman turned filmmaker Ben Hozie really digs into the internet age for his latest indie feature. PVT Chat follows lonely internet gambler Jack (a visceral Peter Vack) and his unhealthy fixation with a vivacious webcam dominatrix named Scarlet (sultry Uncut Gems breakout star Julia Fox). Soon, his obsession takes over his life blurring fantasy and reality in a sordid but familiar story of erotic drama.

PVT Chat explores the extremes of online relationships and whether digital connections based on fetishism or payment translate to real-life. Shot handheld in grainy digital video with wide-angle lenses, it has an immediacy and intimacy to its point-of-view filmmaking.

Jack's obsession and Scarlet's playful yet restrained flirtation feel genuine, but it's hard to know what's real or fake. Equal parts fantastical and grounded in its depiction of various forms of sex work, the alluring film has a clear sense of its street-level New York setting.

Emotional connections play out erotically, but its sexual content is so raw and only ever suggesting an ideal sense of fantasy and much more bent towards a kind down and dirty realism. The loneliness of the film's characters has a genuine honestly to it that's more identifiable than sad.

Peter Vack | PVT Chat | Fantasia International Film Festival 2020
Dark Star Pictures
PVT Chat finds stimulation in its sense if addiction as it explores the nature of our increasingly transactional economy, especially online. Any sex depicted is hardly cheap or exploitive despite its explicit appeal. Both performers are naturalistic while baring their bodies and emotions.

Vack and Fox display a natural connection mostly played out over screens. When they do interact in-person, the sexual tension is palpable. Hozie crafts a truly intimate experience that harkens to classic New York cinema of the streets with a transgressive yet contemporary feel to its seedy subject matter. PVT Chat invites you to be the voyeur in a very grounded erotic drama that's just as unsatisfying as it satisfies much like actual sex. It's both sexy and sordid.

PVT Chat screened virtually as part of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival (Montreal) online and streams again on August 25th.

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