thu 05/12/2019

Chloe | reviews, news & interviews

Chloe

Chloe

Atom Egoyan's lesbo-chic thriller misfires

Chloe: Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore in Atom Egoyan's first mainstream movie

“I guess I’ve always been pretty good with words,” says the eponymous character in the opening, voiceover line of Atom Egoyan’s Chloe - and with that clunker we know the Canadian director's move into the mainstream isn't going to be as gripping or original as any of his previous indie efforts. With a join-the-dots script by Erin Cressida Wilson and overwrought music, it is, unusually for Egoyan, a linear movie and one that ultimately goes nowhere. That’s not to dismiss it entirely - it is beautifully shot and acted, and certainly engages one’s attention, but it can’t quite decide whether it is film noir, serious drama or modern thriller. Film buffs looking for Egoyan making nods to others’ work will be busy ticking off movie titles.

Indeed, it’s loosely adapted from the French thriller Nathalie (2003), but here we are in upmarket Toronto (for once used as a location in its own right, rather than having to stand in for any number of American cities). Julianne Moore is Catherine, a gynaecologist in private practice, Liam Neeson her college-professor husband. They appear to have it all - fulfilling jobs, a gorgeous designer house and a musically gifted son, Michael. But none of them communicates easily with each other and Catherine is surrounded by people having more sex than her - her patients, her sex-obsessed friends and her sexually active teenage son.

Then, after David misses a flight home to a “surprise” birthday party she has organised for him, Catherine thinks he is cheating on her and so hires high-class hooker Chloe (a touching performance by Amanda Seyfried) to see if her man will be tempted. It’s one of many irritatingly unbelievable story details, but let’s plough on. Chloe reports back on her encounters with David and Catherine finds herself both distraught and turned on by these descriptions, wistful for her long-gone, passionate life with her husband. Soon she is attracted to Chloe, they embark on an affair and Catherine’s comfortable middle-class existence falls apart.

But just when we think this is a dysfunctional family drama, Egoyan does a handbrake turn to steer Chloe towards Fatal Attraction territory. With a subtler script we might have absorbed the jarring change in tone, but Chloe’s sudden mental disintegration and Catherine’s move from respected professional woman to menopausal paranoiac equally fail to convince, while Neeson and Michael (Max Thieriot) are annoyingly underwritten. If there is a subtext to Chloe, it’s that infidelity is a bad thing and that relationships have to be worked at - well you don’t say.

Chloe may be lovely to watch and Moore is compelling as usual, but it doesn’t add up to very much; too many plot twists are predictable and even the ambiguous ending seems more of a cop-out than a directorial flush. Oh, and for those who are interested; the chick-on-chick action is brief and tastefully done.

Watch the trailer to Chloe

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