MAXXXINE. The Pearl of the X Muse

Maxxxine has tonal flaws, abruptly shifting from believable drama to absurd slapstick.

Maciej Niedźwiedzki

6 July 2024


Los Angeles, 1980s. The golden age of the porn business. And it’s thriving on all fronts. Lewd magazines are within arm’s reach. Sex clubs on every corner, peep shows, and fetish rooms for all kinds. The demand is so enormous that the film industry can’t keep up with the production of soft and hard erotica. Vast collections of video tapes fill the rental stores. There’s something for everyone. For several months, a serial killer dubbed the “Night Stalker” by the media has been prowling the streets of the City of Angels. It’s just another day. Another night. In these conditions, Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) feels right at home. When accosted in dark alleys, she quickly draws her gun on her attacker. Self-defense with a hint of torture. Her confidence is bolstered by a few close friends and her trusted manager Teddy (Giancarlo Esposito). Though even without them, Maxine would manage just fine. She’s ready to take the next step in her life. Tired of being a porn star and her current image, she plans to start an acting career in mainstream cinema. Maxine has everything she needs to succeed. She also has everything she needs for her plans to fall apart.

Maxxxine completes Ti West’s formal/informal trilogy. The previous excellent “X” and the outstanding “Pearl” were linked by a delicate thread of location and a set of genre and thematic similarities. Whether it’s the idyllic, deserted farmland turned into a bloody site where conflicts are resolved with an axe, or sexuality (both more and less promiscuous) treated as a taboo, with erotica seen as a radical transgression generating aggression and a primal need to kill. It happens. In Maxxxine, West returns to “X,” where the titular character, in amateur conditions, began her adventure in adult films. Now she’s in a completely different place, but the brutal events of a few years ago and the massacre at the Pratts’ farm will resurface.

It’s hard to say that the artistic success of the previous two films weighed on West, but he clearly wanted to tie up loose ends that either didn’t need it or worked better on their own. For example, the character of the detective, played by Kevin Bacon in an extravagant and overly vivid role, feels like an unnecessary addition. Even in the exaggerated, highly stylized, neon-lit Los Angeles of West, Bacon’s character introduces an unintended comic effect. Though perhaps the intention was to let sorrow prevail over fear, and for absurdity to overcome danger. At times, West’s film feels overloaded, with so many narrative threads that none of them stand out as the main theme. Maxine’s acting career, the hunt for the Night Stalker, the investigation into the Pratt massacre, a look at the promiscuous 80s, some postmodern play, and numerous quotes and paraphrases. All delightful, but there are definitely too many mushrooms in this stew.

Maxxxine has tonal flaws, abruptly shifting from believable drama to absurd slapstick. This, in turn, makes the supposedly grand finale lack any real tension. These are, of course, the same creative choices as in “X” and “Pearl,” but they suffer from the third installment syndrome. The chosen formula sometimes wears thin. Not even another stellar lead performance can save it, which comes as no surprise.

Because Mia Goth once again proves herself to be an acting diamond. Seamlessly transitioning between provincial and metropolitan accents. Instantly switching from boundless courage and confidence to moving vulnerability. Full of dynamism in action scenes, majestic in moments of silence. She’s undoubtedly a top-tier film star, though still lacking a truly groundbreaking Oscar-worthy role (even though her final monologue in “Pearl” deserved all the awards in the world). Maxine Minx will likely face more challenges. Mia Goth, however, has a bright future ahead.

Maciej Niedźwiedzki

Maciej Niedźwiedzki

Cinema took a long time to give us its greatest masterpiece, which is Brokeback Mountain. However, I would take the Toy Story series with me to a deserted island. I pay the most attention to animations and the festival in Cannes. There is only one art that can match cinema: football.

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