For the simple romantic in search of a film for Valentine’s Day, PVT Chat comes with major caveats. Set in the world of “cam girls”, the backdrop is the sex trade as enjoyed via laptop by Jack (Peter Vack), a twenty-something New Yorker with a consumptive air.

Is what we witness grubby? It is. Bleakly transactional? Indeed. But the movie is really no more a scandal than Jack is the wealthy online card sharp he claims to be. Real life is often a whole other story — and yet no sooner does Jack fall for cam girl Scarlet (Julia Fox) than he resolves to chance the physical world and seduce her face-to-face.

You may recognise Fox from her star turn in the Safdie brothers’ dervish modern classic Uncut Gems. Director Ben Hozie is clearly smitten with the siblings, co-opting not just their female lead but their scuzzball Lower East Side ambience. Missing is the mania. The Safdies work their camera to the bone; Hozie plonks his down and arranges the actors around it.

Oddly, the movie ends up feeling like an older vintage of New York story, the kind of pre-gentrification indie you expect a youthful Jim Jarmusch to wander through. The most transgressive thing of all might be the sweet likeability — luring in the pervs, then handing them a teddy bear.


On digital platforms in the UK from February 12