Despite being a remake of a French film the new movie from Atom Egoyan bears all the earmarks of the director’s work. Continuing his career long examination of sexual taboos and miscommunication he’s made a movie that is part sexual Scheherazade, part Single White Female but is also his most straightforward movie in years.
Starring Amanda Seyfried as an escort hired by Catherine (Julianne Moore) to test her husband’s (Liam Neeson) fidelity, it’s a steamy thriller the director calls “an extreme examination of how to re-eroticize a marriage.” Add to that a layer of sexual obsession and you get a film that feels like a throwback to the erotic thrillers of a couple of decades ago.
Egoyan has crafted a feature that breathes the same air as Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct; films made when the director was busy making his own subtly sexual films like Exotica. At the time Roger Ebert wrote, “There is a quality in all of his work that resists the superficial and facile. Even at the very start, he wasn’t interested in simple storytelling.” Until now, Roger, until now.
There is no question that Egoyan is as gifted a filmmaker as we have working in this country, but Chloe, I’m afraid doesn’t denote a high-water mark in his filmography.
He does, however, bring much to the table.
The film is gorgeous to look at—from the beauty shots of Toronto, to the collective “wowness” of the cast. To match the rich visuals he’s brought his own sensibility to the story, and instead of simply remaking Nathalie, the French film Chloe is based on, he has populated the plot with strong female characters. And, as befits any erotic thriller there are twists and turns galore. Unfortunately most of them will be obvious to anyone who has ever read a Joe Eszterhas script and that is the film’s Achilles’ Heel.
The movie’s closing moments play like a predictable b-movie, albeit a highbrow one, but a b-movie nonetheless.
Chloe marks the first time Egoyan has worked from a script that he didn’t write and despite its angels—nice performances and beautiful photography—it made me yearn for the auteur of the Exotica years who would have made an uncompromising movie with a more dramatic ending.
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