Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chloe - Home Video Review

Release Date: March 26, 2010

Review Vital Stats:
Format: Blu-ray
Player: LG Model 370
Picture Quality: High-Definition
Sound Quality: High-Definition

Loves: Liam Neeson 
Likes: Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried
Neutral: Fatal Attraction style thrillers 
Hates: When movie studios market a movie incorrectly

So, I would just like to clear the air here and get it all out in the open...yes, Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried have a sexual encounter in this film and a very intimate one at that. So if that is all you are interested in knowing then you can stop reading right here because other than bringing it up for critique I will not be talking about it again and I definitely will not be giving a play by play of what all went down. If you want that then I am afraid you have come to the wrong place.

OK, now that all the pervs have left the building we can get into this review proper like. That being said I feel like I must be completely honest here, the only reason I even knew of this films existence is because of the scene between its two leading ladies. While that definitely piqued my interest it wasn't the sole reason I sought this film out. Usually when two high profile actresses get involved in a project like this it is something different or unique and I am happy to report that the film is most definitely both of those. Whether or not it was successful is a whole other matter entirely.

Catherine is having doubts about her husband's monogamy.
We meet David Stewart (Liam Neeson) while he is giving an out of town lecture to a hall of very enthusiastic students. Well, it just happens to be his birthday and his students want to take him out for a drink to celebrate but he has a flight he must catch in order to get home in time. While that is going on we then meet his wife Catherine whom is back home and has invited a large group of their friends over to surprise David when he arrives home from the airport. As she puts it, the surprise is on all of them because David has missed his flight due to...well we don't actually know why because we see him tell his wife one thing and then we see him next to one of his female students as he hangs up the phone.

He arrives home the next morning and despite being a little upset that her husband missed this extravagant party she set up for him they seem to get along fine. Until she gets curious and picks up David's cell phone where she finds a rather innocent looking photo of her husband in a affectionate looking pose with the same female student we saw him with the other night. Catherine then begins to doubt her husband's faithfulness and begins to devise a plan to test his will and see if he really is capable of cheating on her. This is the point where we are introduced to Chloe.

Meet Chloe.
Chloe is a call girl or high priced hooker if you like. Although we were first introduced to her at the very outset of the film with a monologue by her detailing what it takes to do what it is that she does, we don't really get to meet her until Catherine does. Catherine has seen Chloe from time to time from her office window down at the street level escorting random men to and from the local hotel there. She does not actually interact with her until a chance meeting in a restaurant during a night out with her husband and their friends. We can tell instantly that Chloe is an unusual girl that has a lot more going on in her head than she lets on. Their initial contact is not exactly what I would call a success but Catherine discovers that night what it is that Chloe does.

Although their first meeting in the restaurant ladies room was kind of awkward, it doesn't take long for Catherine to make contact a second time with Chloe to propose a job for her. Chloe is straight forward about what she does and how she works. She is cool and collected during their discussion which is in complete contrast with the nervousness seen in Catherine. And why wouldn't she be nervous? After all she is hiring a call girl to seduce her husband to see if he is really capable of cheating on her. She is unsure that this will help her understand it in any way but she is adamant about having Chloe go through with it. Chloe accepts the job offer without much fuss and from that point forward a web of seduction, lies and turmoil begins to take over all of their lives.

Chloe and Catherine discuss the finer points of seducing David.
This film has been marketed as a sort of Fatal Attraction where a mentally disturbed woman lusts after a man and will do anything in her power to fulfill her desires. Well, I am here to tell you to ignore that, because labeling this film with that premise is just about as misleading as saying Twilight is a movie about vampires. Chloe is not some clever femme fatale stalking her prey, she is a mysterious girl that has real emotions and feelings and reasons for what she does over the course of the film that I cannot say unfortunately without giving away one of the better aspects of the film. I was actually not looking forward to the "jealous girlfriend with a sharp knife" movie cliche and was happy to see that isn't where this film went.

The real theme of the film is one of trust and longing. How important trust is in a long lasting relationship and how longing for something that will never happen can be just as destructive to a person as jumping off a cliff. When we meet David and Catherine it is clear to us that they have been together for a very long time and they have a teenage son to show for it. They are both successful in their careers and because of that they have drifted apart. We are told that David likes to flirt with women all the time, it is in his nature, but because of how far apart he and Catherine have grown she no longer trusts him and believes he is now acting on those flirtations. Their marriage is in desparate need of repair, but Catherine made a fatal mistake when she brought Chloe into the picture.

Catherine has just received a "not work safe" email.
Chloe is never really given much of a background and because of that we assume that her longing is malicious and that she may be mentally unstable. While some of that may be true, she does have a very good reason for why she ends up acting the way she does and I don't think there is a person alive that could blame her. She just kind of takes it too far. In an odd way she actually feels more like a victim once all has been revealed and you kind of feel bad for her even though she does go a little bonkers near the end of the film. It is impossible for me to say more without giving anything away so please skip ahead past the blacked out text if you don't want anything ruined for you.

Alright, enough with the vague remarks, here is why I believe this film works and how it takes the jilted/psycho lover formula and does something different with it. You see, Chloe is not infatuated with David. Nope, she is in love with Catherine actually and it turns out that the chance meeting they had in that restroom was not fate, it was planned out by Chloe. She uses this job she has been hired to do to get closer to Catherine and uses that as a strange sort of way of seducing her with the entirely made up stories about her escapades with David. Chloe does eventually get what she was after and both her and Catherine end up sharing a very intimate night together where it is made quite clear to us that both women share some sort of deeper connection. The problem is though that even though they both had that connection, for Chloe it meant something beyond just sex and for Catherine it was just a beautiful one night stand that she would rather not repeat.

David and Catherine come to terms with each others mistakes
I love how tame this film is with that situation. You would normally expect to see a rabbit boiled in water in a film like this but the character of Chloe isn't that psycho woman we usually see. She just wants to live happily ever after with the person she loves and she turns into more of a pest than anything else. But the really odd thing is that she doesn't really seem like the bad person in all of this. As the film progresses you start to see Catherine as more of a villain and that is only because she made some seriously bad judgement calls. You never start rooting for Chloe, but you sure as hell aren't rooting for Catherine either.

I haven't really spoken much about the actors themselves. I suppose that is because I didn't find anything here that really knocked my socks off. Sure, Liam Neeson is good but he seriously phoned this one in and Julianne Moore is fine as the doubting wife. I think this film really belongs to Amanda Seyfried though, she turns in a performance that is really quite subtle but you see so much emotion in those amazingly evocative eyes of hers. You always get a sense that the wheels are constantly turning in that brain of hers and because of that we are always unsure of her actual intents. It is a rather brilliant and understated performance that helps you connect with an otherwise unstable woman.

Chloe doesn't take rejection well.
I am unfamiliar with director Atom Egoyan's other feature films but glancing over his past works he tends to lean more towards the erotic side of film making. I can see a lot of that in this film yet there isn't much in terms of tantalizing sequences. You have the moments when Chloe is describing her encounters with David to Catherine with her very very descriptive words and Catherine's aroused demeanor while listening. Then of course there is the scene between Chloe and Catherine which I thought was perfect in its brevity and showing the state of mind that both women were in. It was the most erotic thing to be found in the film and I thought it did what it had to do very well without being crass or overlong.

Overall I really enjoyed this film, the different approaches it took to a very a tired subject were very welcome and I think it has a lot of meaning behind its torrid tale of love and lust. Amanda Seyfried is proving herself to be an actresses that takes risks and I think those risks paid off this time. For her to be in a film with two acting powerhouses like Neeson and Moore and come out ahead of the curve is quite an accomplishment. I would have to say if you are in the mood for an erotic drama/thriller with three fine actors then...


Chloe [Blu-ray]


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