Chloe Review


There’s no doubt Atom Egoyan is a talented director. The Sweet Hereafter is one of the most devastating movies I’ve ever seen. And he’s certainly capable of crafting a smart, adult, and erotic motion picture—as evidenced by Exotica. Unfortunately, while ‘adult’ and ‘erotic’ would describe his latest film, Chloe, well, ‘smart’ certainly wouldn’t. This is a film that uses its eroticism as a gimmick, and degrades itself by embracing a number of B-movie cliches. The film has an interesting premise, but once things get going, it seriously falters.

Catherine (Julianne Moore) and David (Liam Neeson) are a seemingly happy upper-class Toronto couple. She’s a gynocologist. He’s a college professor. Their relationship isn’t as peachy as it might seem, however. David has a penchant for flirting (just flirting, he insists), and it really gets under Catherine’s skin, so she decides to do something about it. She hires an attractive escort, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), to meet David, try to seduce him, and report back to Catherine everything they do together. Catherine’s suspicions are confirmed when Chloe reports some very graphic interactions between she and David. Yet Catherine doesn’t confront her husband, nor does she ask Chloe to stop. Chloe becomes something of a surrogate for Catherine to feel close to her distant husband. As she gets drawn in, Chloe strikes, and soon, she is having an affair with both David and Catherine.

The triangle between the three primary characters is interesting, but it becomes clear Egoyan isn’t quite as concerned about the psychological tension between them as he is about ‘titillating’ the audience. Why Catherine continues to make Chloe see her husband is the film’s most interesting question. Egoyan never quite answers that. Instead, he shifts his focus to Catherine and Chloe’s relationship. From there, cheesy thriller conventions ensue, and the film is a disaster.

It’s hard to put too much blame on Egoyan, however, as fate seemed to intervene on this film. Liam Neeson’s wife, Natasha Richardson, died during production. Egoyan has reported that the tragedy didn’t change things too much, but the sudden shift away from the character of David makes me think otherwise.

The performances in Chloe are a mixed bag. Julianne Moore acquits herself admirably. Her character is a portrait of distress, and few actresses do distress better than Moore. Amanda Seyfried is seductive and mysterious, but she’s not believable in any other situations. Liam Neeson just doesn’t have much to do.

In the pantheon of 2010 films I see, Chloe will probably be one of the most forgettable entries. Ultimately, it squanders it’s early promise in favor of something uninteresting and kind of lame. It’s been a while since Egoyan has crafted anything on par with his mid-90’s masterpieces. I hope he gets things back on track at some point soon. But for now, it’s another big miss.

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