Based on a true story, this action-packed, hard-hitting depiction of the infamous Ashley gang - who terrorized the southeast in the 1920's - also illustrates a desperate love between two people destined for destruction.
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Two compelling lead characters & performances make this worth seeing.
"The Pyx" may indeed lose a bit of its effectiveness if one already knows one of the ultimate twists going in, but it's still a reasonably absorbing, if awfully slow moving, detective thriller with a touch of horror and a strong emphasis on Catholic guilt. It's a somewhat overlooked Canadian movie, filmed on location in Montreal, that derives most of its impact from the performances of its two Academy Award nominated stars. Canada's own Christopher Plummer is solid as Detective Sergeant Jim Henderson, investigating the death of prostitute Elizabeth Lucy, played by Karen Black. Both leads deliver touching performances as each of them struggle with their own inner demons. And they receive great support from some of the other actors, particularly Jean-Louis Roux as Keerson, Yvette Brind'amour as Meg the madam, and Terry Haig as Jimmy. The movie's most prominent aspect is the way it moves back and forth in time, following both Henderson as he works to solve the crime, and Elizabeth on her doom-laden path. This leads to moments that are interesting but might be disconcerting for some viewers, as characters are killed off in one scene and alive and well in the next. Director Harvey Hart, working from a screenplay by Robert Schlitt, based on the novel by John Buell, emphasizes mood and feel at all times, and it's commendable that he and cinematographer Rene Verzier would shoot this in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and give it that sense of scope. It's worth noting, also, the level of talent that Black displays here, as she composes the songs heard and sings them beautifully as well. Even if the climax is spoiled for the viewer ahead of time, it's still nicely creepy, and leads to a pretty devastating ending confrontation where one character is able to see into another's soul. The producer is Julian Roffman, who 12 years previous had been director on a 3-D movie titled "The Mask" considered to be Canada's first horror movie. "The Pyx" (the title refers to a small round container used to carry the consecrated host to sick or invalid individuals or those otherwise unable to receive Holy Communion in a church) is good entertainment, overall, and definitely worthy of a look. Seven out of 10.
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