PVT CHAT is a 2020 sexual drama film written and directed by Ben Hozie. The film narrates the lives and relationships between an online gambler, Jack, and his preferred cam girl, Scarlet (Julia Fox, Uncut Gems). When Jack discovers Scarlet is more local than he was led to believe, his obsession grows to dangerous levels. Jack’s descent begs us to ask: what do we do when our fantasy is in reach?
Timely:In the current social and entertainment climate, wherein websites like Only Fans are exploding in the world, PVT CHAT provides a microscopic look into the life of a customer and creator. Jack is a stereotypical depiction of how an addict feeds into the readily accessible platform. Scarlet brings light to the assumed domestic stigma that partners with a career as a cam girl. Though the exposure to their lives is limited, it can be strongly inferred that the empty realities of Jack and Scarlet are adequately communicated to the audience.
Too Safe: It does not take long to catch on to the symbolism that Jack offers. The cis-gendered white male of this generation, obsessed with the sexual desires that only live in his mind, and ultimately only being able to engage in any intimacy in the most remote and absent settings. Jack is pathetic. Ben Hozie makes a conscious decision in this script to surround Jack with a multitude of reasons to despise him. Hozie’s script does not deflect from the progressive path of sex work advocacy. While belittling Jack by reinforcing the aforementioned stereotypes, Scarlet is unabashedly placed on a pedestal. Hozie ensures that the audience rejects Jack but embraces Scarlet. Truthfully, Hozie missed an opportunity to flip the narrative. The third-wave feminist agenda in PVT CHAT is tiring, and Hozie does nothing unique here. The film is not daring in any capacity.
Moments:PVT CHAT does not have many memorable moments. The few sharp moments it does produce center around the performances of Jack and Scarlet — their chemistry is impressive considering the virtual call element that Hozie implements. PVT CHAT attempts to splash in a supporting cast that never catches on, though. Everything interesting about Jack and Scarlet happens within their shared scenes. Individually, Scarlet can be very flat and sour. Jack is overtly ghastly at times, but the performance is good enough for that “love to hate” viewership.
PVT CHAT doesn't break any barriers. Ben Hozie fails to risk much with this story despite the sexual content. Jack and Scarlet may represent a new wave of romance, but another attempt to tell the story is needed.