Review: Julia Fox heats up steamy 'PVT Chat'

'Uncut Gems' actress stars as a cam girl in writer-director Ben Hozie's frank exploration of online obsession

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

There's a seedy feel to the steamy erotic drama "PVT Chat," which is like a movie version of a particularly lurid Peaches song. It explores the loneliness and disconnection of our digital landscape, and what happens when those personal online connections are brought into the harsh light of the real world. 

Peter Vack stars as Jack, an online gambler who lives in a tiny apartment in New York City. He's all but totally shut himself off from real life friendships and relationships; he plays blackjack on the computer for money, money which he spends in chat rooms late at night talking to cam girls. 

Julia Fox and Peter Vack in "PVT Chat."

His favorite cam girl is Scarlet ("Uncut Gems'" Julia Fox), with whom he chats nightly and tips handsomely. Their relationship is of the BDSM variety, with him bowing to her demands, though a bond grows when they begin to let their guards down and talk about their personal lives. He lies to her and tells her he's a wealthy app developer, she's honest with him and shares her love of painting. It's enough to make heart emojis aflutter.  

Fondness grows into obsession as Jack begins to stalk Scarlet in the streets of New York, following her into her local bodega and back to her place. His risqué game is found to be even more dangerous when Scarlet finds out and makes him the mark of a scam cooked up by her boyfriend. 

"PVT Chat" is at its best when it delves into the intensity of digital relationships and the ways our minds can trick us into believing the deepness of a connection formed over a computer screen. The movie falters in its final third, as writer-director Ben Hozie grows too attached to his characters and tries to find them some semblance of a happy ending that doesn't feel altogether convincing. The fantasy is more real when it's left inside the screen.


'PVT Chat'


Not rated: Extremely graphic nudity and sexuality, language

Running time: 85 minutes