March 27, 2010
Review - " Chloe " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
For comments or to submit a movie review for possible inclusion on Delta Films site
please send an email to Critics@deltafilms.net
Directed by: Atom Egoyan
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Max
Based on a script by Erin Cressida Wilson, Chloe casts Julianne
Moore as Catherine Stewart, a Toronto gynecologist whose practice
is thriving but whose life eludes her. Her teen-age son seems to
have slipped out of her control and her husband, David (Liam
Neeson), a college professor who apparently is catnip to the coeds,
appears to have lost interest.
Indeed, she's convinced that he's cheating and apparently
discovers proof: an email from a female student on his cell phone,
accompanied by a photo - from a night where he failed to appear at
his own surprise party because he supposedly missed his plane
from New York.
Still, Catherine is enough of a pragmatist (and a bit of a masochist)
that she wants hard proof. So she hires a callgirl named Chloe
(Amanda Seyfried) and gives her the assignment of seducing her
husband. Catherine is a bit of a prig, but even as she's telling Chloe
not to give her the details of her encounter with David, she's
coaxing them out of her and getting aroused as she listens.
She's so aroused, in fact, that, when Chloe summons her to a hotel
room where Chloe and David have just had sex, she and Chloe
couple up for an afternoon of their own illicit passion. Now what?
Now what, indeed. Egoyan has more on his mind than a married woman's awakening to her own Sexual urges. Probably, he's
got a little too much on his mind, including a Hitchcockian twist that takes this film into Fatal Attraction territory, where it's not
all that comfortable.
I don't mean uncomfortable in the sense of making the viewer squirm. Rather, when the film takes a left turn in the final act, it
moves into territory that's both too predictable and too implausible at the same time. Still, having gone there, Egoyan cranks
up the suspense as best he can, creating a feeling of dread that's effective, if not quite believable.
There’s some great acting in Chloe, mostly by the superb Julianne Moore. Moore has one of those transparent ideal
actress's faces that register every emotion so cleanly, with such effortless naturalism, that almost nothing she does seems
forced or calculated, even when her movies, as here, take wild dives into melodrama. Moore is also well-supported by
Neeson, Seyfried (in a noir baby doll femme fatale role) and by Max Thierot as Catherine’s obnoxiously self-absorbed piano
prodigy son. Neeson is similarly skilled at making it real.
Moore has a jittery reticence, an almost prissy quality that makes this character intriguing and believable. She's made herself
into a prude, a quality that seems calculated to shield her from base urges that she would rather not deal with. Moore
conveys a lot of feeling with a little, as a woman who finds herself in the deep end when she finally does give in to her
suppressed appetite. Moore’s playing of the wounded, suspicious wife, Catherine Stewart, wins sympathy for a character
who might otherwise seem pathetic, sinking into a film noir whirlpool with the enigmatic Chloe. And that sympathy is crucial,
because of the self-flagellating misery of the character, the undertow of ruinous eroticism, and the nightmarish plunges
Chloe keeps encouraging and Catherine keeps taking.
Seyfried has a kind of disembodied sultriness - she's a sex worker who doesn't get emotionally involved in her job, yet never
betrays her lack of connection to the client. But she too is blocking feelings she can't control, which make her even more
seductive when she gives in to them.
Neeson brings a melancholy to the role of a
man who mourns the loss of intimacy with his
wife and longs to have it back. That mournful
quality may stem from Neeson's own life; he
was making this film at the time that wife
Natasha Richardson died in a ski accident.
Chloe builds to a climax you may or may not
buy. But go along for the ride; it's one that's
alternately hot and chilling. The story itself is
an interesting neo-noir romantic thriller and
like Chloe herself, this movie is beautiful,
surprising and sneakily intelligent. At its best,
it gets under your skin, a pickup more
arousing and more luscious-looking than the
You will not have to walk out of this one as
both Moore & Seyfried show enough flesh to
keep the adolescent boy in most men
occupied and engaged.