X (2011) – Australia (DVD Review)
@ DVD Courtesy of Madman Entertainment Australia
Review by: Andrew Chan (Neo) FCCA
Review Date: 30 August 2012
“Give me a chance!”
“X” is a utterly watchable Australian thriller, due to a strong turn from Hanna Mangan Lawrence and credos to local director Jon Hewitt for creating a messy, but gritty film about the world of sex, drugs and blood.
“X” is a messy film and the filmmakers are not ashamed to hide it. It is messy because, the notorious red light district backdrop of King Cross is exactly that. There is no denying it, nor is Australian director Jon Hewitt attempting to glorify the sex trade in any way. Sex workers lives a dark and bleak life and “X” is essentially a snapshot of the worst case scenario. The film is at times beautiful to look at, but suffers from some obvious low budget outcomes, namely cutting away in crucial moments like the car crash scene and some pretentious “Spiderman” style split screen sequences. Filmed for a paltry million dollar, “X” looks far better than its budget constraints and the film literally holds onto the audience till the end. For a film that has some much sex, nudity, drugs and bloody gore, “X” like 2012’s “Careless Love” never falls into the low brow category and produces a flawed, but good film.
Hanna Mangan-Lawrence (who previously worked with Jon Hewitt in “Acolyte”) is simply amazing as a fledgling prostitute who literally goes through hell and back during her first night of sex venture in the streets of King Cross. Mangan-Lawrence is able to depict the victim of circumstances perfecting with her natural flawed appearances. The manner in which she keeps invoking the sense of naivity, nervousnes and shakiness all adds up to make her character all the more compelling and capivating for the audience to endure. She is most certainly a rising Australian actress to watch for the future. While Viva Blanca is true to her role as the veteran high class prositute, her performance lacks the “X” factor that is required of the role. At times, Blanca could’ve done with a little more emotions in the proceeding. Perhaps, it is due to her character having experienced a lot already in the midst of retirement, but somehow she just comes up short. Another issue with the film is the lack of character and somewhat distant focus on the male actors. Peter Docker as the corrupted cop is critically wasted in a role that is far too stoic to add anything to the preceding.
All in all, “X” is a gritty and sexy film, even if it fails to explore the deeper notions within this dark and bleak area in Sydney. Working within a shoestring budget, director Hewitt works extremely well in making the picture looks awesome. Comparison to this year’s “Careless Love” will undoubtedly be made and both films represents that the local industry is still filled with talents all round. Hanna Mangan-Lawrence is an actress that caught my eye and undoubtedly will be heading to Hollywood with plenty potential in the near future. Still, “X” works despite it flaws and for what it is worth, it is most certainly a commendable effort in depicting a dark and messy world of King Cross. Worth a look… (Neo 2012)
I rated it 7/10
Audio commentary with director Jon Hewitt, writer/actress Belinda McClory & producer Lizzette Atkins
Behind the scenes
Original soundtrack with portrait gallery
DVD released in Australia-wide on 16/05/2012 by Madman Entertainment.