X Jon Hewitt

X Jon Hewitt
Joining the ever-expanding roster of angry, pseudo-feminist, Australian erotic thrillers as of late, Jon Hewitt's X is a simple enough treatise on degradation and determination in the face of objectivity. Relying on above-average performances and a removed, voyeuristic aesthetic to mask budgetary constraints, it mirrors the storylines of two prostitutes, each on either end of the class spectrum, eventually bringing them together for a climax catharsis of sisterhood solidarity. On the low end of society is teen runaway Shay (Hanna Mangan Lawrence), whose exploits giving hand jobs to senior citizens in expensive cars introduce us to the street life scene in Sydney's Kings Cross red light district. It's juxtaposed against the similarly degrading high end hooker life of Holly (Viva Bianca), whose adventures involve live sex shows for upscale housewives and giving the girlfriend experience to sociopaths that cover her head during coitus. As is usual with films of this nature, Holly's last easy job before running off to Paris to find a new life (which incidentally involves Shay) goes terribly wrong, leaving the girls to spend the last hour of the film trying to stay alive. Since Hewitt has some experience with the thriller and horror genres, having last helmed Acolytes, there's a proficient sense of tension permeating this women-in-peril chase movie. And while the material is decidedly seedy, there's never any sense of exploitation, as the nudity tends to be pertinent to the plot and mood rather than titillation. Still, beyond noting some harsh realities about gender divides there's really no deeper exploration of the subject and most of the sequences are pretty standard issue for streetwise thrillers. While competent and professional, X ultimately succumbs to mediocrity, showing off the talents of a couple of actresses, but doing little beyond this. (Mongrel Media)