Viva Bianca is a Badass Call Girl in ‘X’

Posted on April 14, 2011 by Deaditor 2 Comments

X (2011)
Release Date: April 8th (Theatrical), April 13, 2011 (VOD)
Directed by: Jon Hewitt
Starring: Viva Bianca, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence,
Review by Marc Patterson

X is an erotic thriller from Australia steeped in violence that opens with a rousing display of a live pornography performance taking place within the private confines of an aristocratic woman’s social club of sorts. It would seem a highly pleasurable way to waste away ones afternoon, getting cocked on wine and feasting on the flesh of lust. The things the rich do behind closed doors… and you thought old rich women got together for tea and to discuss Jane Austen novels. Hrmph.

As the opening credits roll we are provided a subdued montage that introduces us to Shay (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence), a young teen-aged runaway who has turned to street prostitution on the fringes of the city. Opposite her is Holly (Viva Bianca), who we already met in those titillating opening moments, an upscale escort who enjoys the finer things in life. It’s Shay’s first night on the job and Holly’s final night. When the two girls meet up by chance Holly employs Shay for what should be a quick and easy job, one last trick for Holly before she retires. For cinema fans you know that “one last job” really means “worst job of your life”. The guy the gals were going to double bang turns out to be some drug running low-life scumbag. When his business partner shows up and pops a few rounds in his skull things go south for the girls double-time.

X starts off as an erotic thriller before slowly melting into a brutal game of chase the hooker and beat her to fuckin’ death. Though it’s a wicked tale of vengeance sprawled across dirty inner city streets director Jon Hewitt doesn’t jack the film up on crank, but keeps the pace intentionally slow, and removes the formal element of soundtracking in much of the film allowing the inner city environment to provide the only auditory supplement. When Hewitt does speed it up, you can literally feel your pulse start to rise. The experience of watching the film lends itself to creeping around in an empty house trying to listen for a possible intruder. When a punch is thrown to the face it hits with maximum impact because you’re not expecting it, even when you slightly are.

The violence in the film is hard hitting and once turned on it doesn’t turn off. It’s vicious, hardcore and unrelenting. I’m not going to say who, what or where, but X also features the most ruthless head bashing scene I’ve seen since Irreversible. Irreversible still takes top honors, with American History X running a solid second, but without a doubt this scene is up there.

Speaking of Mr. Gaspar Noe, X is shot in a fashion that seems to emulate, to a softer and lesser degree, the gritty trance inducing style that Noe has perfected in his films. It lacks those musical cues meant to prompt us to foregone conclusions, allowing Hewitt to shock us when and how he sees fit. In fact, parts of the film felt as though it was cut from the umbilical cord that breathed life into Enter the Void. For a production full of soulful shoegazing introspection it left me feeling rather empty and incomplete, ready to dive into a bottle of booze while listening to some Shivaree.

The acting in the film is accomplished. Viva Bianca is every bit the sultry sexpot she embodies in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. She has an extremely hot physique and exudes the aura of a true upscale prissy bitch. Sure, it sounds like a backhanded compliment, but I mean it in the best possible way. But here, that catty persona from Spartacus is curbed back and and replaced with a more fierce form of sensuality. She’s tough, street smart, and well-connected creating a formidable opponent to the asshole tough guy that is hunting her down.

Hanna equally succeeds in bringing dimension to her character of Shay, the naive understudy; vulnerable, and lost, yet not stupid. Throughout the film she’s on a journey of discovery, running from her past and towards a future that doesn’t seem to exist. Her reality sits in the moment of the day, and in fact that’s exactly what this film is, a snapshot into a “day in the life of” amplified against the worst-possible scenario situation.

As the credits roll we contemplate the last bit of dialogue uttered as though it were a fine scotch on the lips. X is an artsy film full of sensuality, violence and style. It’s not the typical Hollywood fare that we too often see offered up and doesn’t provide a perfect framework, or even give the viewer a satisfying closure to walk away with. But ultimately that’s what made it a thoroughly entertaining ride.

X is now available on VOD from IFC Midnight via Comcast, Cox, Cablevision, Time Warner, and Bright House


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