Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chloe [movie review]

* Limited theatrical release in March; now on DVD
Chloe is Canadian director Atom Egoyan's latest film and his most commercial effort yet. It also marks his first feature that he didn't also write - Erin Cressida Wilson contributed the screenplay, which is based on the 2003 French film Nathalie.... This remake is also the movie that Liam Neeson was shooting at the time of the skiing accident and subsequent death of his wife, actress Natasha Richardson. Those events necessitated a rearrangement of the film's script and shooting schedule, with Neeson amazingly returning to work shortly after his wife's funeral for a couple of days of filming to wrap up the movie's work on his character.
Julianne Moore, Neeson, and Amanda Seyfried star, with Moore adding another standout performance to her resume (we'll overlook that terrible Bah-ston accent she brought to her appearances on 30 Rock last season). Moore plays Catherine, one half of an upper class couple, with a successful gynecology practice and an unhappy home life (her son hates her and her marriage to Neeson's David character has grown stale). Amid suspicions that David is cheating on her, Catherine hires an escort named Chloe (played by Seyfried) to test his faithfulness. The investigation into her husband's possible infidelity leads to a seismic shift within Catherine's own hollow, insecure inner being. Along with a complex, nuanced performance from Moore, the youthful Seyfried also does an excellent job in holding her own with two heavyweight actors, playing her character with a low-key, almost effortless sexual appeal that is shrouded in compelling mystery.
Egoyan might not have written the screenplay, but Chloe very much feels like it's been cut from his literary cloth. The examinations into human psychology, laced with sexual intrigue, echo much of Egoyan's past work (Exotica, in particular, comes to mind). To research the world of upscale sex workers, Egoyan hung out at a New York City hotel bar, where he soon found himself paying for the time of various escorts as he interviewed them about their work. The film was shot in Toronto, with the city playing itself for a change (Yorkville is featured prominently, as well as the Allen Gardens botanical garden).
From time to time on MediaboyMusings I like to make mention of a film/TV show/album's critical ratings on sites like RottenTomatoes or Metacritic, just to get the pulse on how something was received by the general public and media. A perusal of feedback on Chloe practically stunned me, with it only getting a 52% favourable rating on RottenTomatoes and an even less charitable rating on Metacritic. That, combined with the film's anemic box office returns in a limited theatrical release, will lead many to dismiss this as a failure and skip it, which is their loss. Most critical rebukes point to the film's admittedly disappointing final act, which does its damndest to cancel out the excellent first 75% of the movie and drag it down to a "trashy art film" level. It doesn't quite succeed though, as the beautifully shot, superbly acted bulk of the film cannot be disregarded.
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

2 comments:

  1. Christine & I almost watched this last night via Rogers. However we watched the preview which initially looked interesting .... and then we saw it 'detach' itself from the audience with lesbian undertones and we decided to watch something else.

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  2. Yeah, I can't really see this as being something she'd enjoy.

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