Who doesn’t love Stanley Kubrick? I mean, c’mon – the man is an icon. With titles like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining, he has thoroughly cemented himself into the popular culture as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. His pictures are arguably some of the best ever made. As such, he is no stranger to other creators being inspired by his work.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Why is this guy talking about Stanley Kubrick? How is this relevant to the subject at hand? Well, it’s because this leads me right into the sticky, fetid bowels of the movie that I’ll be reviewing today. Scott J. Ramsey’s 2019 film X is reminiscent of Kubrick’s final project, Eyes Wide Shut. Although it isn’t a carbon-copy, you can certainly see the influence on many of its stylistic choices. Really, you would have to be blind not to. Despite these surface-level similarities, though, X has its own unique story that helps it stand on its own – for better or for worse.
The plot of X is a sordid tale that revolves around secrets and voyeurism. Christine (Hope Raymond) runs an organization called The Foundation, which throws lavish parties for a laundry list of exclusive guests. At these parties, which Christine refers to as balls, visitors can indulge in their most deviant sexual fantasies. With the help of her friend Danny (Brian Smick), her events have grown incredibly lucrative and popular. This state of affairs is not destined to last, though. Christine is hiding a dirty secret, which threatens to unravel her entire life if revealed. Things come to a head when Stella (Eliza Boivin), a figure from Christine’s distant past, crashes one of The Foundation‘s functions. Soon, her worst fears begin coming to fruition, as everything she has built starts to fall apart before her very eyes.
The first thing that struck me while watching X was the acting – oh, the terrible, hammy acting. Within the first twenty minutes, it gave me the impression that the film was going to be a total stinker. The performances, without exception, feel altogether forced and awkward. For a project that presents itself as a serious dramatic thriller, this is not a good look. However, this is but one of the nails which seal the picture’s coffin. There is something to be said for the film’s overall design, which you can tell a significant amount of effort went into. Somebody had tried very hard to give X a sleek and sexy presentation. Unfortunately for them, though, this would be like wrapping a lump of coal up in a Tiffany box. No amount of aesthetics could make up for the film’s mostly predictable story development and slow pacing. Despite the opulent exhibition of it, X still manages to come away feeling somewhat cheap and shoddy.
Theoretically, if I were trapped on a desert island with a television, DVD player, and a copy of the film, I would briefly consider watching it again – but only briefly. It was a rather humdrum experience the first time around, comparable to drinking a bowl of hot milk. Not excruciatingly painful, but ultimately nothing to write home about, either.
4.5 out of 10