Sunday 5 September 2010

Movie Review: Chloe (2009)

A psycho-sexual thriller that examines the effects of throwing erotic oil on a smoldering matrimonial mess, Chloe is never less than interesting thanks to a strong cast and a steady current of tension lurking below the surface of a seemingly civilized marriage.

Catherine (Julianne Moore) is a doctor who suspects her husband David (Liam Neeson), a professor, of having affairs. Catherine approaches Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), a high-class escort, and asks her to seduce David as a test of his resolve. David appears to fail the test miserably; but when Chloe starts to report back to Catherine the sordid details of her liaisons with David, Catherine finds herself strangely attracted both to Chloe and to the specifics of her husband's infidelity. Soon, the triangle spirals out of control and Catherine's son Michael is drawn into the turmoil.

Director Atom Egoyan keeps Chloe simmering, and allows his cast to sparkle in a demonstration of restrained rage among professionals. Moore anchors the film as the suspicious wife who finds her own lust spiraling in directions that she never anticipated. Neeson is adequately dark as the professor chafing under the restraints of his marriage. Seyfried has the most complex role, as an escort available for seduction services who gradually turns into a much more dangerous intrusion into Catharine's life.

Chloe does suffer from a less than satisfying and all too convenient ending, and it does not take too much effort to spot the main twist in the unfolding drama. There is also a lingering sense that Chloe is essentially a modernization of 1987's Fatal Attraction, with a few new wrinkles added.

Nevertheless, Chloe's main lesson is a good one to re-visit: the most polished sex triangles have sharp edges and dangerous pointy ends.

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