For the last year, we have pretty much lived similar to Jack (Peter Vack): in our homes working from home and interacting with people through teleconferencing technology through the internet. Such isolation, no matter how quickly we have all gotten used to it is substantially impactful. Interaction IRL can feel weird as a Zoom or a Google Hangout has become more normal than going to the club. But no matter how used to the “new normal” we can get, it still is drastically different than what most of us have done prior to 2020. However, for Jack, the online world is pretty much all he knows, and it’s what he craves in PVT Chat.
Jack spends his days in his home where his “job” is being an internet gambler. Jack is the first person to say he doesn’t want a normal 9-5 and the rush of playing virtual blackjack is much more fulfilling than punching a clock every day. Sometimes he loses, other times he wins big, which causes him to live somewhat on the edge. Of course, his landlord who’s ready to kick him out isn’t a fan of this lifestyle as he’s always late with the rent. When Jack’s not gambling online, he nursing his other addictive personality: cam girls and going to brothels. He doesn’t seem to have the capacity for a relationship with a woman in the real world, so instead, he just pays for companionship via the world’s oldest profession. Everything changes when he happens on Scarlett’s (Julia Fox) website.
Scarlet operates as a cam girl in the erotic domination territory and Jack is more than eager to continuously tip her for virtual humiliation. Unfortunately, he begins to develop feelings for her that eventually turn into dangerous infatuations. No longer is Jack talking with Scarlett about erotic fantasies, now it’s every day getting to know you talk. Because he’s a loner internet gambler, he invents a rich tech mogul persona to impress her as he continues to tip her. Because Scarlett’s supposedly based in San Francisco, he wants to see her in real life. Everything changes when he realizes that she’s not from San Francisco, but she’s actually living in his own neighborhood in New York City.
So starts a weird stalking relationship. He continues to talk with her online and continue to get to know her, but he also wants to find her in real life. He enlists his friends to try and tell him if they find a “Scarlett sighting.” As he begins to blur his digital and real-life, things start to fall apart. He’s getting evicted from his apartment, yet he continues to obsess over her. And Scarlett knows it too. About halfway through the film, PVT Chat makes a c-change and the audience starts to follow Scarlett and we get to see what her world is about. Of course, she has a boyfriend who’s using her cam money to get an art project off the ground, and he basically tries to “pimp” her out to continue video chatting with Jack. Is she using him now, or is she also starting to develop feelings now that they both know they are near to each other?
Let’s just start from the top, PVT Chat ain’t for anyone prudish. Uncut Gems breakout star Julia Fox leaves little to the imagination in her cam shows, as does Peter Vack’s Jack who freely masturbates in the film. So, if seeing someone standing at full attention or watching a woman masturbate leaves you squeamish, PVT Chat may not be the film for you. While many erotic movies provide the mirage of simulated sex, PVT Chat does the exact opposite. There are at least 3 scenes that are borderline pornography as the audience gets to see people touching private parts with no Hollywood movie magic attached to it: fair warning.
The performances from the two leads are great. Julia Fox who prior to acting did work as a dominatrix feels right at home in PVT Chat. She continues to give great acting performances while at the same time captivating with her sexuality every frame she’s on the screen. The same goes for Peter Vack who plays isolated loner very well. Unfortunately, the other cast members don’t have the same acting capacity. The people who pay Jack’s friends seemed as though they were simply reading cue cards just off-screen as they simply weren’t doing the proper amount of emoting. Speaking of the dialogue, it seems as though there was a significant amount of ad-libbing as well throughout the film. The ending of the film is predictable… until it isn’t. In the climax of the film, a decision is made that would logically have a strong reaction, but instead, it zags when it should have zigged.
That said, PVT Chat is a unique ride and gives the viewer a glimpse into a completely different (and highly erotic) world. As stated before, it isn’t for the squeamish, but it also gives a fun exploration of isolation, loneliness, and the need to connect, even if it’s in a virtual environment.
PVT Chat will be available on VOD on Friday, February 5th