By Dave Campbell | March 26, 2010
Director: Atom Egoyan
Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay) Anne Fontaine (source material “Nathalie”)
Starring: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Nina Dobrev, Max Thieriot
Chloe opens with music professor David Stewart (Liam Neeson) purposely missing his flight home from New York to spend time with his students, and in turn he misses the surprise birthday party waiting for him at home – orchestrated by his wife Dr. Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore). As two successful professionals, David and Catherine have become sexually stale in their marriage as they focus on their careers and raise their 17-year old son Michael who is soon graduating from high school.
David’s flirtatious ways with women drive Catherine’s suspicions of infidelity, so Catherine takes a peek into his phone and finds messages from a young female. Days later Catherine and David are out having dinner with friends when Catherine excuses herself to the ladies room and meets an emotional young call girl named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried). Catherine seeks out her new acquaintance and hires Chloe to test her husband’s faithfulness. Catherine and Chloe have meetings after each encounter Chloe has with David. Chloe dishes out the vivid and juicy details fueling Catherine’s growing jealousy. This awakens something in Catherine that will affect her entire family.
Shot in Toronto, Ontario, Chloe may be cast with a very familiar American Hollywood ensemble; but the atmosphere and styling have a very European feel. Based on the French film Nathalie by Anne Fontaine, Egoyan’s take on the thriller is erotically charged in tone and approach. The writing and performances flow with a sexy manipulation matched with slow sensual camera movement and story pacing.
Chloe is provocative not because of the sex scenes or sight of skin (which is present), but by the tension created between leading ladies Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore. Seyfried uses her cat eyes to deliver a seductive performance drawing attention in every frame, while Moore leads the overall demands of the film with her alluring presence and broad character depth. Neeson’s performance is impressively consistent even though his wife Natasha Richardson tragically died in a skiing accident during the film’s production.
The majority of the film is engaging and cohesive, but where Chloe gets off track is the surreal ending. In true Hitchcockian form, it’s an understatement to say that Chloe takes a quick blindsided turn and then just abruptly ends. This type of closing is a great thing in the world of Hitchcock’s canon, but Chloe left me wondering “What the hell just happened?”. I’m not into spoilers so I’ll leave it at that, but man I really could have used more substance for how it all plays out and an ending that was in bed with the first two acts.