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Movie Review: Chloe

March 26, 2010

'Chloe' posterChloe has a spectacular pedigree.  Directed by Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter), the film boasts Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, and Amanda Seyfried as a trio of characters whose lives become deliberately intertwined.

Too bad, because after a promising set up, the film devolves into a cliché psychological thriller. It ultimately culminates in a tacky ending that is better suited to a cheap slasher flick.  I suppose if I had to summarize my thoughts on the movie in one word, I would say it is misguided.

Julianne Moore plays  Catherine, a successful gynecologist with a teen aged son about to leave for college and a college professor husband.  Faced with increasing emotional distance from her son, and suspecting her husband of having an affair, Catherine appears to be experiencing a mid-life cycle of sorts.

She befriends a high class escort named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) and hires her to find out if her husband will cheat on her. It is evident that there is a sexual undercurrent between the two women.

That’s when things get a little weird.  After Catherine gets the definitive proof from Chloe that her husband is cheating on her, she doesn’t pay her and send her on her way.  That would be too normal. Catherine continues to have Chloe meet with her husband.  After each encounter, Chloe and Catherine meet in various places to discuss all the lurid details.

Although Catherine appears greatly pained to hear the explicit details of the trysts, she always prompts Chloe to, “Tell me more.”  At some point she appears to actually become sexually aroused by hearing these details.  What the…?

The film is perfectly  cast.  Julianne Moore is luminous and is one of those rare 40-something actresses who has not succumbed to the botox. She has wrinkles, and she wears them beautifully. Those wrinkles are crucial to understanding Catherine’s insecurities about getting older, while her husband “grows more beautiful every year.”   I think a lot of women can relate to that, myself included.  Catherine would not be relatable at all if Moore looked twenty in the film.

Moore always makes interesting acting choices, and this is no exception.  Her acting is wonderful, per usual.

As for Seyfried?  It’s a little disarming to see her play such a sexy and dangerous type, and at first I thought that she just looks to innocent to pull the role off.  However, after settling into the film, I realized that she was the perfect casting choice.

Chloe is successful because she doesn’t look like she is a prostitute.  Her wholesome appearance just makes it all the easier to manipulate the people in her life.  She holds her own with Moore, no small feat.

Amanda Seyfried plays the femme fatale

Liam Neeson is also very good, but it is a sad reminder that his wife Natasha Richardson died during the filming of Chloe.

The cinematography is seductive, and technically the movie is beautiful, as are the filming locations.  There are luxurious houses and office buildings, swank hotel rooms, sumptuous linens, gorgeous clothes, even a restaurant bathroom is a spectacle to behold.

My main issue was with the actual story.  As I mentioned, the ending seemed beneath the rest of the movie, and certainly beneath the talent of Egoyan and the cast, which is a real pity. This film is decidedly non Hollywood for its entire running time.  Why throw a Hollywood ending on in the last few moments, then?  It messes with the consistency and tone that has been established for the first ninety minutes.

Whether or not you will actually enjoy this film will also depend on whether or not you buy into the character motivations of Catherine, and I did not.  There was not much indication as to why she would be predisposed to bringing this psychological torture upon herself.  Don’t most people indulge themselves when they are facing a mid-life crisis?

She is far too put together to unravel the way she does in the movie.  For me, it just didn’t work, and I really wanted it to.

Rating 3/5



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