Film Review: X (2011)

Viva Bianca as Holly

Two women are connected through the dark and dangerous streets of Sydney; their chosen career paths; and the murder they witness in the new sensual thriller X. Holly (Viva Bianca) is a high-class call girl who is within a day’s reach of flying to Paris and presumably starting a new life, free of the shackles of hookerdom. Shay (Hanna Mangian-Lawrence) has just escaped from her small-town life to windup on Kings Cross without any money and few options. A chance meeting sees the two women engaging in a quick job which then turns into a cat and mouse chase for the remainder of the film.

X looks as classy as Holly’s call girl status. Like the affluent looking apartment that Holly lives in, X is elegant on what one presumes was a modest budget. Narrative mythology states that there are only a small amount of stories that are continually re-spun, regurgitated and reformatted. The “witness a murder and flee to another location” has definitely been done before, but this does not work at the film’s detriment.

Australian cinema has seen high-class prostitution depicted earlier in Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty. Thematically, there are similarities (both are highly stylised films) but the genre sees the biggest difference. Where Sleeping Beauty was languorously perverse, X sees a hurried narrative and for good reason.

Both leading ladies are gracefully compelling. Bianca is commanding as the older and wiser call girl and Mangian Lawrence is vulnerable as Shay, showing a mature performance from the Bed of Roses star. Jon Hewitt and Belinda McClory’s script is not a meditation on social values, but a simple, sexy thriller. Hewitt’s direction is smart and well paced. Sydney, as a setting, looks both respectably indecent and precariously energetic. Thriving on the patient reveal, X turns from a sensual drama into a speedy and engaging thriller armed with enough ammunition to sustain the modest hour and a half.

X opens in limited theatrical release in Australia on Thursday 24th November through Potential Films. X also played at the 60th Melbourne International Film Festival.

3.5 blergs


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