I hope you all had a nice weekend! Let’s get to the review, shall we?
Starring: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, and Amanda Seyfried
Directed By: Atom Egoyan
The erotic thriller seems to exist in a world of extremes. They’re either quite good (Fatal Attraction) or just abysmal (Color of Night). More often than not, they’re just an excuse to show female nudity and lots of it. Not that I’m complaining. However, this tends to push the genre away from good cinema, banished to late night cable television. This is the familiar world that Atom Egoyan’s Chloe enters. Egoyan has had success with movies like this as seen with 1994’s Exotica. Unfortunately, with Chloe, the results are rather underwhelming.
Chloe follows Catherine Stewart (Moore), a gynecologist going through a mid-life crisis. She is isolated in her large window filled house. Her husband David (Neeson) is rarely around as he’s either grading papers or conversing with his students via instant message (he likes to keep himself available, you see). Things are even worse with her son Michael (Max Thieriot) as their relationship is evasive at best, hostile at worst. When David misses his birthday party, Catherine begins to believe he’s having an affair. Enter Chloe (Seyfried).
Chloe, as you would have guessed from the trailers, is a prostitute and she’s very good at her profession. She knows all the right places to touch and all the right things to say. Not only that, she knows how and when to do it. This is the young woman that Catherine hires to test David on his fidelity. Catherine gets more than she bargains for. As with with all movies like this, there’s more to Chloe than Catherine realizes and soon after Chloe is introduced into her family’s life, it all starts to unravel around Catherine.
Yes, it is a fairly generic plot and it follows every cliche there is. The “twist” ending isn’t remotely shocking and is one you can see coming a mile away if you just pay somewhat close attention. For example, I had it within the first few minutes and I wasn’t looking for it, either. Sadly, my theory turned out to be true so most of the remaining hour and 30 minutes turned out to be a large waste of time story-wise. Also, much like Mike Nichols’ Closer, the leads are fairly unlikable. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really experienced Catherine’s emotional distance to her loved ones, but I found I couldn’t really relate to any of them.
That said, also like Closer, the performances carry an otherwise weak movie. Moore is believable as her character begins to emotionally breakdown, albeit sometimes a bit over the top. Her loneliness is apparent and you do feel for her. Sort of. Neeson is very good as the would-be cheating husband. His role had to be reworked and cut short due to the tragic death of his wife Natasha Richardson in a skiing accident. Seyfried is radiant and surprisingly good in the titular role. She promoted this movie like crazy and is obviously very proud of it. She should be. It’s a far cry from Jennifer’s Body or Mean Girls.
Much has been made over the love scenes and there are several. They are well made and do bring something to the plot. Yes, perhaps, we didn’t need to see everything they show, but believe me, they’re actually rather tame compared to some movies. However, they aren’t completely gratuitous. In each of them, there’s more going on than just sex. The sex is actually used for character and story development. I can think of worst ways to go about that.
Bottom Line: While the performances of the always reliable Moore and Neeson (along with a surprisingly strong turn by Seyfried) make this movie watchable and sometimes engaging, the story itself let’s it down. It’s full of cliches and twists that are completely obvious. In the end, the only thing separating this from the usual Shannon Tweed flick are the actors in it and higher budget.
Might be doing something a bit different on Wednesdays starting soon. I’ve applied to a group that reviews films that make up the 1001 Movies You Must See book. Should I get in, we’ll make Wednesdays the classic movie day. I’ll keep Friday as Top 10 Day. I’ll just shuffle the Hall of Fame to another day. We shall see.