STARRING Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Max Thieriot DIRECTED BY Atom Egoyan SCREENPLAY Erin Cressida Wilson MPAA RATING Rated R RUNNING TIME 96 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY Sony Classics DVD EXTRAS Commentary with Actress Amanda Seyfried, Director Atom Egoyan and Writer Erin Cressida Wilson
Introducing Chloe: The Making of Chloe
Had anyone else but Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan shot Chloe, a suspenseful story of love and betrayal inspired by Anne Fontaine's 2004 French marital thriller Nathalie, odds are it would have garnered at least a 1/2 star higher rating from The Independent Critic.
The problem is that Egoyan has spoiled us with such stellar early films such as the Oscar-nominated The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica, both stellar films that explore fragile intimacies and lives with no possible way to achieve a happy ending.
Egoyan can do better than Chloe, a film that can't seem to decide if it wants to be an erotic thriller, a psychological thriller or a softcore porn with an admittedly justifiable admiration for the admittedly admirable assets of its young co-lead Amanda Seyfried.
In the film, Catherine (Julianne Moore) and David (Liam Neeson) are a successful couple with an increasingly unsuccessful marriage. Catherine, a gynecologist with a zestful knowledge of the female orgasm, suspects her professor husband is having an affair with one of his college students after he misses a surprise birthday party. David warrants the suspicion, though Chloe portrays him largely as a flirtatious innocent. Into this increasingly fragile marriage complete with a fragile and disgruntled teen son (Max Thieriot) comes Chloe (Seyfried), a beautiful young "escort" whom Catherine hires in an effort to "test" her husband's fidelity. Soon, Catherine become drawn in by Chloe's tales of her husband's failures in faithfulness. These tales, a naughty mix of lurid sexuality and adult fairy tale, are so melodramatic that it's difficult to fathom anyone truly becoming so completely and utterly engaged by them. Yet, there's something so completely and utterly fragile about Catherine that it never quite dissolves into silliness.
It comes close, though.
Chloe would have, in all likelihood, been a stellar erotic thriller had Egoyan chosen to go about it with full abandon. He doesn't. Likewise, Chloe could have been an absolutely stellar psychological thriller if Egoyan and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson didn't downward spiral the film into "movie of the week" histrionics and action thriller cliche's towards the end.
Chloe is a semi-decent film with a solid cast that never quite gels into a good film.
It goes without saying that Chloe, a young woman who seemingly resides in the midst of unresolved mommy issues and a faint desire for social normalcy, will gain the upper hand in this situation and, after one particularly ill-fated lapse of judgment by Catherine, Chloe may hold the fate of Catherine's whole family in her pretty little hands.
This is an Atom Egoyan film, so one gets the sense it ain't going to end up all nice and pretty with a bow tie.
Or will it?
Chloe isn't one of Egoyan's best films, but it does have enough of Egoyan's trademark cinematic touches that his fans should consider this a film to see. While the film languishes right around or slightly above cinematic mediocrity, it's elevated by a strong cast that sells material that would have likely starred Shannon Tweed or Nicole Eggert 20 years ago.
Liam Neeson, whose real life wife died during the filming of Chloe, adds just enough of a gray zone to David that one is never quite sure of his actions, motivations or motives. He and Moore underplay their roles, giving both characters a subtlety that draws you in and constantly makes you wonder about the truth.
The film's true revelation may very well be Amanda Seyfried, an actress who reveals a bit more depth to her talent with each role and whose turn here is alternately seductive and psycho. While Egoyan and cinematographer Paul Sarossy seem a tad too obsessed with softcore shots of Seyfried, the actress manages to turn even these scenes into enticing bits of psychological intrigue. It's a performance for Seyfried that should lead to increased dramatic work and another step away from her bubble gum persona, though here's hoping she takes a page out of the Amy Adams rise to fame notebook.
Produced by Ivan Reitman's Montecito Picture Company, son Jason is an Executive Producer for the film, Chloe is proof positive that some directors are so good that even their cinematic mediocrity is vastly superior to the best of many filmmakers. Atom Egoyan is such a director. While Egoyan's Chloe is an immensely flawed film, it's a flawed film that will still draw you in and is likely to please Egoyan's legion of fans.