Chloe is an amazing movie and everyone should see it. That’s what I would say if this were 1993 and I were my twelve-year-old self, looking at late-night cable movies in the hopes of finding nudity or the always tantalizing "sexual-situations." Those kinds of movies, the likes of Madonna’s Body of Evidence, Neve Campbell’s Wild Things, and Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct, had their place in that time before the internet gave everyone access to whatever titillation they could think of. But in 2010, a movie like Chloe has only one suitable place: a landfill. As you may have inferred, Chloe is less of a movie and more of an excuse to show Amanda Seyfried’s breasts, which it does and does often. Unfortunately, that is also the highlight of the movie, and it’s a pity that Seyfried’s breasts upstage her, and everyone else, in nearly every scene.
Chloe is the story of a Catherine, played by Julianne Moore, who is a gynecologist, of all things, and is worried about her husband’s faithfulness. Liam Neeson plays the husband, David, a professor of opera who, in the beginning of the movie, knowingly skips his own surprise party in order to have coffee with an attractive student. When Catherine runs into a doe-eyed escort named Chloe (Seyfried) whom she had espied some days before, she hires her to flirt with her husband and report back to her so she can know once and for all if he’s cheating or not. Chloe has a series of encounters with David, each followed by a debrief with Catherine. However, Chloe is attracted to Catherine, and becomes obsessed with her. The tension and lust increase in severity leading up to a lackluster, unsatisfying ending that strains the limits of both patience and believability.
During the movie, there are a variety of sex scenes with a variety of combinations of characters, although nearly each one involves Chloe herself. Beyond those scenes, the movie makes it hard to forget that it is one step above soft-core pornography. The characters all seem preoccupied with sex, with Chloe’s awful dialogue probing Catherine’s desires, and David’s flirtations with female students going unchecked. Catherine’s son, as well, seems to be having regular sex with his girlfriend virtually in front of his mother. All in all, the plot reads like it was thought up by a fourteen-year-old boy with the future hopes of being an adult-film director.
Chloe hasn’t suffered in its reception by critics nearly as much as it should have. The director, who here, happens to be the highly-praised-by-film-critics Atom Egoyan (1994’s Exotica), is known for his attention to detail, his deep and universal themes, and his expertise in film technique. In fact, most critics of this movie will mention him more than the movie itself. He is a good director, to be sure, knowing exactly how to construct a scene and a narrative. But so is Spielberg, and he still made the last Indiana Jones film. Anther aspect of this film that has skewed the reviews positively is that it is the remake of a French film Nathalie, and critics are nothing if not suckers for French films and their remakes. Finally, this is the movie that Liam Neeson was filming when his wife, Natasha Richardson, was tragically killed in a skiing accident, so perhaps it is taboo to pan it so harshly. But pan it I must.
Here’s a perfect example of why this movie was so bad. In one scene where Chloe recounts how she and David found themselves alone in a greenhouse, the following words actually leave her mouth, and nobody in the production crew thought for minute to think hey, this dialogue sounds like drivel, and not like real life. "He brought his mouth to my lips… I could feel him getting excited through his pants." Blech. Sure, that may play well in a romance novel, purely as description, but people do not talk this way, especially not prostitutes.
While Moore and Neeson play their roles well enough, Amanda Seyfried’s interpretation of the character is, to put it lightly, as effective as the actor’s interpretations of characters in a commercial for a Ford dealer. She is glassy eyed, wooden, and monotone, which, I suppose, is her stab at being a femme fatale, but acting like someone in the middle of sleepwalking isn’t the same as being coy. And, because she is the element upon which the plot depends, perhaps the movie would have been better with a different actress who at least had some sort of acting skill, say, perhaps, Paris Hilton.
All that said, the movie is not completely unwatchable. Egoyan is able to squeeze at least a small amount of tension and a rather clever narrative twist, but it cannot safely land this tumbling aircraft of a film. Thus, see this movie if only to satisfy curiosity about Amanda Seyfried’s breasts, but once you have had your fill, quickly shut it off. Chloe is tempting, but like any other prostitute, she is best avoided.
Starring: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried
Director: Atom Egoyan
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Runtime: 96 minutes
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