Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Well, that was a fascinating slice of Australian born stylish depravity. In director Jon Hewitt’s thriller ‘X’, we are introduced to Holly (Viva Bianca… girl, is that your real name?) and Holly is a prostitute. And from this film’s opening scenes we can see that Holly is pretty darned good at her chosen profession. Today is Holly’s thirtieth birthday, and since she’s been in this game a good fifteen years, it’s time to shut it down. Tomorrow morning Holly is flying to Paris, completely starting a brand new life and leaving the seedy streets and stylish penthouses of Sydney behind her. All this lovely young woman has to do is survive this one night. Good luck with that Holly.

On the other side of town we meet Shay (Hanna Mangan Lawrence). Seventeen year old Shay has just arrived in the big city, and for whatever reason this shy, inexperienced and na´ve girl has come to the conclusion that prostituting herself on the streets of Sydney is the quickest way for her to make a few bucks. It’s not a promising start.

Before she takes off, Holly is treating this night like any other in that she has jobs to do to pad her bank account a little bit. One of these jobs is a threesome requiring a brunette to offset Holly’s blondness and she can’t find a colleague to help her out of this tight spot. Circumstance leads her to stumbling upon young Shay and after a little convincing, that being hard cold cash, the vet and rookie get down to the business of doing the job.

Did the job go well? Of course it didn’t. You know how these things go… One minute everybody’s having a good time, drinking champagne, snorting cocaine, engaging in fellatio and what not… the next minute there’s a guy on the carpet with three bullets in his head, a couple of prostitutes witness this and now there’s two whores on the run with an extremely angry guy hot on their trail to end their lives. I hate it when that happens.

Holly knows all she has to do is make it to the airport, get on that plane and all that she has seen is left behind her. She suggests that Shay go back to wherever the hell she came

from and forget any of this had ever happened. But how bad could Shay’s life back home have been that she’d rather prostitute herself and attempt to avoid certain assassination than go back home? Pretty darned bad. Still… personally I would’ve gone back home, or anywhere else, all things considered, but Shay obviously feels her options are limited.

The evening goes from bad to worse for these young women, with Holly even forced to ask for help from her lover Lugurian (Peter Docker) who is one of the reasons she was trying to get of town in the first place.

We’re pulling for Holly, both of them actually, but believe me when I tell you… this night in Sydney? Worst. Night. Ever.

I know it would be completely inappropriate and get a lot of people fired but I would have ‘X’ shown across fifth grade classrooms all across Australia. The upside to this otherwise irresponsible act would be an entire generation of girls having absolutely no desire to prostitute themselves on the streets of Sydney, or anywhere for that matter. None.

Taking a step back and looking at ‘X’ as a whole, it has its flaws but I’d be lying to you if I tried to tell you I wasn’t entertained by this sleazy thriller. The majority of this entertainment can be placed on the tall, soft shoulders of Viva Bianca, who most of us know as the queen bitch in the television show ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’ but plays a completely different kind of role this time around. Holly doesn’t have a heart of gold, hardly, she’s tough, manipulative, and maybe a little greedy, but mostly she’s a survivor. Miss Bianca does a fine job of defining this character, in what had to be a difficult role, and what her character is willing to do. And while she doesn’t have a heart of gold, it’s more slightly tarnished silver since she did look out for Shay the best she could. Ms. Mangan-Lawrence’s character of Shay isn’t as well defined, leaving us with some confusion towards some of the things that Shay did, and Mangan-Lawrence isn’t yet the actress that Viva Bianca is, but I would say that her part in this film was more challenging since her character had more emotional ground to cover, and all things considered the young actress did a good job with it.

The look of the film was a combination of glossy grit, with cinematography that made Sydney at night foreboding yet strangely inviting, the atmosphere and pacing were tense, and the subject matter was decidedly adult in nature, but where I found fault was in a narrative that relied too much on coincidence to force itself forward, and an antagonist who was cartoonish in nature. I mean I know it’s a bad night and all, but eventually the situations these women found themselves in, in a city this large, were bordering on the ludicrous. Then there was Stephen Phillips and his character of Bennett, and while we appreciate an over the top bad guy as much as the next guy… but this guy… at least he seemed to be having fun with it.

Nonetheless, we did enjoy the time spent with ‘X’, the type of movie you just don’t see very often anymore, and one that just might make Brian DePalma, and those who used to enjoy that thing he used to do back in the early eighties, a little nostalgic.

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