Monday, 3 May 2010


When Chloe opens with those shots of Amanda Seyfried as she ensues in her monologue of sorts, Atom Egoyan gives us the impression that what follows will be an exposé (of sorts) on this woman and her life. Chloe is not such a film, I can’t pretend that any apprehensions I have about the film derive from the opening, but in assessing why Chloe left me somewhat cold I couldn’t help but revert to the beginning which had me anticipating something completely different from what ensues. In fact, at the end the first thing I wondered was – How did the beginning enhance the film?
Despite its name, Chloe is the study of a marriage. Catherine and David, played credibly by Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson are a marriage couple. She’s getting old and worried about her age, he’s getting old and more flirtatious (but still chaste, we can assume). A provocative image on his phone when he misses a party leads Catherine to hire the eponymous Chloe to seduce her husband and report the results. It’s a fairly simple story, a pedestrian one even. This can only end one way for us to have a movie – he sleeps with her and tragedy ensues (I’m well aware of the deception in this statement). In this way Chloe depends on a twist that’s not really a twist, but my issue is not even with the twist. Egoyar crafts a film that’s beautifully shot, the writing is fair even though it’s unexceptional and it’s not so much that the denouement of it falls flat, but the viewer is left with the question – so what? This is, essentially, my issue with Chloe. I’ve never seen the original, and cannot comment on if Chloe is a misrepresentation of it. I remember chuckling to myself when I heard the name of the director, how could I take such a name seriously? It’s the same issue I have with Chloe. At face value it’s the study of a marriage that ultimately is saved, but with cracks in it (that final shot of Julianne). Nothing more, nothing less. But the story is one devoid of any individuality, and the very title (and that telling opening) has me rethinking it.
SPOILERS: Be warned!!!
The film opens as we watch Seyfried in moments of undress as she narrates over the film. It’s a poor opening, I think, in context at least. It’s significant that this is the only narration in the film, opening or otherwise. What’s more, Chloe is obviously not the main character of the film, so why begin with her in a state of pseudo-omniscient. Is the opening even chronologically related to the film? A crazy thought occurs to me, is Chloe even dead? Obviously she is; the maimed body alone is proof. But Chloe being alive is the only way that the film’s beginning makes sense. And since it’s obvious that she is dead Egoyan’s Chloe falls flat. Or if not, I was waiting for a moment of absolution when we’d realise that Liam’s David was just the consummate actor and did have an affair with Chloe. But alas, no such twist. It’s fine to look at and completely diverting but as I gain a little distance I also gain some perspective. It’s been a full week now and Chloe’s significance seems stark. Technically, it’s adequate but Egoyan seems to have no argument to put forward behind the pretty shots…or if he does, it completely eludes me.


Mike Lippert said...

I think I've explained my love of this movie not only on my blog but in the comments section at about six others as well so I'll refrain from repeating myself other than to say the more I thought about this movie, the more I liked it.

Simon said...

I don't feel strongly either way.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

That last shot is horrid. The sex is awesome, and Liam and Julianne do a game job of trying to elevate the material, but I'm with you: So what?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

mike next time write your thoughts, i had to go searching for me them. after doing so, including your review which was excellent, i still don't particularly care for it. strangely, i don't disagree with much (if anything) in your review but i still think it's a c+. glad someone liked it though, it's not HORRID to be, just unexceptional.

simon thank you, mr. mediator.

walter come on, seyfried was good too. but yes, julianne and liam did try.

Vanessa said...

I really wanted to see this but after all the "bad" reviews I'm just gonna wait for the DVD to come out. Pity!

Sebastian Gutierrez said...

I'm sorry, but how could you find anything to like about this movie at all? The performances were lifeless, the dialogue was pedestrian, and sex scenes were completely unnecessary and boring. I vehemently despise this movie! I don't really know what made me get all up in arms about it, but, there it is.

Julian said...

While i know this isn't a great film, i still kind of liked it. I think Amanda shined in this one, and it felt like the movie was trying to explore sexuality in a interesting way, though i don't think it managed to fully accomplish what it was trying to do(A french movie called The Piano Teacher imo does this better).

However, i think another problem with the movie is that 2 important scenes ended up being deleted(saw them on dvd). Without seeing those scenes you miss a lot of character development and thus some of the characters motivations don't quite make sense(Like when the son yells at the mother for controlling his life. Through the deleted scenes we learn that the son was living with a older woman until the mother paid the woman to leave, or something like that. Without that scene, you don't really know that the son is talking about)