March 3, 2011

Rabid Rewind: Chloe

starring Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, and Amanda Seyfried
directed by Atom Egoyan
screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson
StudioCanal (2009)

To get the puerility out of the way: If you want to see Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried each appear topless on screen, your inner frat boy will be satiated. If, perhaps, you're looking for a sophisticated and low-key thriller, then you too will find something to enjoy in this film.

Chloe is apparently the first film Atom Egoyan has directed which he has not also written. Considering the caliber of the script and the performances from his cast, I think he should consider doing that more often. Not to say Egoyan films are bad--they are simply an acquired taste.

Catherine (Julianne Moore) is a successful Toronto doctor with an amazing home, brilliant husband, and a gifted son. Her life is not all smiles and sunshine, though. She suspects her husband David (Liam Neeson), an accomplished university professor, is cheating on her. In the beginning it is simply passed off as the paranoia of an aging beauty surrounded by gorgeous younger women--a tired cliche in my eyes, but it works in this story. As she begins to get glimpses into David's relationships with his students, she wonders just how faithful he really is. Enter Chloe.

Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) is an upscale call girl who crosses paths with Catherine one night at a restaurant. Upon realizing Chloe is a prostitute, Catherine essentially hires her to make a pass at David to see if he'll bite. Chloe's curiosity and somewhat shadowy moral compass take the scenario to places Catherine couldn't possibly have anticipated. Not only does Chloe managed to regale Catherine with recaps of her sexual trysts with David, but also shows signs of a growing infatuation with Catherine herself. Imagine what might have happened if Fatal Attraction had turned into a twisted three-way.

Comparing Chloe to films like Fatal Attraction and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and Single White Female is inaccurate and unfair. Chloe relies much more on the subtlety of the relationships between the characters than presenting a whacked-out psychopath encroaching on a suburban household like those other three films. Granted, there are moments when the film feels like it is applying more of a veneer than anything else, but it is a strong story that doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator.

To Seyfried's credit, she shows a helluva lot more by way of acting chops in this film than anything she's previously done. She comes off as a bit outmatched when sharing scenes with Moore and Neeson, but you can probably count on one hand the young Hollywood starlets who could go toe-to-toe with such acclaimed actors. At least she manages to keep pace through the majority of the film and even manages to steal a scene or two--and not simply by shedding her clothes.

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