X marks the plot

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Jon Hewitt’s X is the new Australian erotic thriller where sex, drugs and murder are the key ingredients. Set on the sleazy streets of Sydney’s Kings Cross we follow a high-end sex worker, Holly (Viva Bianca), as she plans to retire from her profession and move to Europe. After accepting one last job, she crosses paths with teenage runaway Shay (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence) and enlists her help for the evening. Before the night’s end, the lives of both women will be changed forever when they witness something they shouldn’t – a game of cat-and-mouse ensues.

X is a good example of what can be done with a low budget. The screenplay, co-written by Belinda McClory, fits perfectly into the thriller mould with a tinge of neo-noir, and it is the seamless performances of Bianca and Mangan-Lawrence that give the film its edge.

The nightmarish world of Kings Cross, however, feels unconvincing at times. Scenes of drug use and violence are akin to a television cop drama that scratches only the surface of Sydney’s underbelly, barely exploring the deeper social issues at play. X fails to address the true cruelty of the sex industry which makes it difficult to empathise with Holly and Shay. As audience members we wish to know more about them as people rather than just what they look like naked.

Nonetheless, for what it is — soft-core B-grade thriller set in Australia’s own Sin City — X will keep audiences entertained with a journey that takes us down the alleyways and into the backstreets of a local urban dystopia where everything from sex to drugs can be bought for a price. X will not win the Palme d’Or award at Cannes but it’s far from a cinematic failure. If you’re looking for a movie with sex and violence, but without the moral tale to match, then this is the film for you.

X is now screening at Cinema Nova. For session times and tickets visit: cinemanova.com.au

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