Movie Review: Chloe (2009)

| 28 June , 2010 | Reply

Directed by: Atom Egoyan
Starring: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried

The Canadian director Atom Egoyan has been a critic’s favourite for some time (garnering Oscar nominations for his 1997 film, The Sweet Hereafter), but his films have not yet gained a broad popular success. Perhaps his latest effort, Chloe, a sexually charged melodrama, handled with Egoyan’s characteristic style, and starring Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried – one of this year’s brightest up-and-coming talents – will signal a shift.

Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) is suspicious of her husband (Liam Neeson) and takes the unusual step of hiring an escort named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce him as a means of determining whether or not he has been unfaithful. Things do not exactly go as planned, and Catherine soon finds herself in a tightly coiled web of obsession and deception, which has grave consequences for both her and her family.

Chloe is a remake of the 2003 French film Nathalie, and it echoes similar themes to that of Fatal Attraction. Though the story is unoriginal, Egoyan’s deft directorial touch offers a fresh and mature execution, and the film is well acted and nicely shot. This is a film about desire, told through a voyeuristic perspective. It is well paced and – much to the satisfaction of the audience – the narrative builds into a gripping, yet somewhat unexpected, climax.

The sexuality of the film is explosive, wafting through the entire narrative. The imagined affairs, as played out in the mind of Catherine, elevate the tension to sizzling heights. Rather than be horrified, Catherine finds the fantasy unexpectedly arousing, complicating her actions, and ultimately keeping the viewer at arm’s length from the final plot revelation for much of the film.

Amanda Seyfried is expertly cast and adapts well to her no doubt challenging role with a maturity and believability that is a welcome return to form following Letters to Juliet. Through Seyfried’s limpid gaze, there is a certain desirable innocence transferred to Chloe, which adds an interesting dimension and contrast to the hard-edged prostitute cliché. Chloe is an intriguing, ambivalent, but ultimately sad figure that viewers will empathise with and be fixated by, despite being positioned as the antagonist in the film.

Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson provide a welcome depth of talent and are both compelling and convincing as the time-wearied couple. As actors whose age surpasses the frightfully low Hollywood benchmark, they demonstrate that sexual attraction and onscreen chemistry, when crafted by quality actors, transcends age.

Chloe warns us of the dangers of meddling in relationships – yet, just like desire, it is hard to resist. Explosively sexual and adeptly portrayed, Chloe, like its thematic predecessors, is bound to be remembered.

Chloe is in cinemas from August 19.


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