CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: CHLOE
By L. L. Soares
(THE SCENE: a diner. LL SOARES sits at a table near the back. A blonde woman sits down across from him)
BLONDE: Do you have the pictures.
LS: Sure (takes out a large envelope)
(He spreads out several photographs across the table top. They are all of a man golfing)
BLONDE: What’s this? You were supposed to get me evidence that he was cheating.
LS: Nope. No cheating. He’s just been golfing.
BLONDE: Dammit (Gets up from the table) I could have sworn he was cheating on me.
(She pays him and leaves, not even bothering to take the photos with her. LS puts them back in the envelope)
(Cell phone rings)
LS: Oh hi. Yep, I did damage control. Now what about that party you were going to invite me to? (LAUGHS)
(MICHAEL ARRUDA enters and sits down at his table)
MA: Who were you talking to?
LS: Nobody. It’s about time you got here.
MA: I wasn’t able to see the movie this week. It was only playing a week in my town, and it’s already gone. Looks like you’re going to have to do this one alone.
LS: No problem. A lot of times I feel like I’m reviewing these things alone, anyway.
MA: I wish I could say that!
(WAITRESS COMES OVER)
LS: Order some breakfast. I’ve got a movie to review.
CHLOE is the new movie by Atom Egoyan – an arthouse staple and the filmmaker responsible for such quirky films as THE ADJUSTOR (1991) and EXOTICA (1994), as well as one Oscar-nominated film, THE SWEET HEREAFTER (1997).
He’s also dabbled in horror themes a few times, including FELICIA’S JOURNEY (1999), featuring Bob Hoskins as a caterer who watches videos of his mom’s old cooking show when he’s not trying to lure women into a lethal trap.
MA: So is CHLOE a horror movie?
LS: Not really. If anything, I think it would fall into the “quirky” category. But you did say you wanted me to review it for some reason.
MA: I said I wanted US to review it, because it sounded like a cool movie. It just didn’t last long enough for me to catch it. Anyway, go on.
LS: CHLOE is a remake of a French film called NATHALIE (2003) starring Emmanuelle Beart. And it’s kind of a variation on FATAL ATTRACTION (1987), but without the boiling bunny. The storyline is actually very simple.
MA: No boiling bunny? How horrible!
LS: Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) thinks that her husband David (Liam Neeson) is having an affair. Devestated by this realization, she desperately wants to catch him in the act. That’s where Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) comes in. Chloe is a young call girl who works in the neighborhood where Catherine, a gynecologist, has her practice. She often stares out the window between patients, watching Chloe going about her daily routine.
After David misses his surprise birthday party under suspicious circumstances, Catherine goes to the nightclub where Chloe meets customers and hires her to seduce her husband. Actually, she doesn’t want it to go as far as sex – she just wants Chloe to temp David and prove that he’s interested in other women. Catherine pays her and waits for the results.
Chloe goes to the diner where David has his breakfast each day, and asks for the sugar. They exchange glances, and Chloe later reports to Catherine that he did indeed take the bait, but is taking it slow, because he says he’s a married man. Catherine hires Chloe to meet with her husband a second time. This time Chloe relates a story of increases intimiacy, and sex in the back room of a greenhouse.
Meanwhile, a kind of sexual chemistry begins to stir between Catherine and Chloe. As Chloe tells her stories of sexual encounters, Catherine feels a strange connection with the husband she loves, but whom she feels has drifted away from her after so many years of marriage. The connection between them is Chloe. But as things get more heated, Catherine retreats, and says that she doesn’t want to continue their arrangement.
That’s when things get complicated. Chloe doesn’t want to let go and is hurt that she is suddenly being dismissed from the case. She begins a relationship with Catherine’s teenage son Michael (Max Theiriot), to stay close to Catherine, and things just get creepier from there. And there are a few unsettling revelations as the story unfolds.
The acting is very good. Julianne Moore is always an extremely watchable actress. And Neeson, who has a rather thankless role, does what he can with it. Seyfried continues to impress. Her career has mostly been in television so far, in shows like VERONICA MARS and HBO’s BIG LOVE. But she gave a stand-out performance in JENNIFER’S BODY (mostly because she acted circles around Megan Fox), and is actually on the edge of real stardom with mainstream films like the recent love story, DEAR JOHN Her acting career continues to bloom, and CHLOE certainly doesn’t do anything to stop that momentum. But CHLOE is a small, indie film, that only got limited release, so it’s not going to do a lot to increase her exposure, either.
(MEGAN FOX is sitting at a nearby table and taps on the formica loudly)
FOX: Come on now. I am a GREAT actress. How dare you say otherwise.
LS: Well, I will admit I’m a fan. I’m just not sure it’s for your acting.
FOX (waves statue): Look, I even got an Oscar.
LS (eyes bulge): Where did you get that?
FOX: I stole it! But I’ll win one of my own soon enough. TRANSFORMERS III will be out before you know it.
MA: Enough chatting with the other customers. Back to the review.
LS: Sure thing, bossy. There is a real heat between Moore and Seyfried in this movie, though, and those sexual sparks are exactly what make this movie work. The script isn’t exactly a work of art. As you watch CHLOE, you’ll find the plot twists predictable, and the dialogue often absurd. There are key scenes that come off as almost silly, and this is no doubt why many critics gave it negative reviews when it first came out.
However, I saw CHLOE as kind of a guilty pleasure. It certainly isn’t Egoyan at his most profound, but it’s a lot of fun. It didn’t matter that the script wasn’t always convincing, the actors take this flawed material and run with it, making it very entertaining. Since this one is probably gone from most theaters at this point, I’ll have to suggest people check it out on DVD when it comes out. It’s not brilliant, but you might get a kick out of it. I know I did.
MA: I just ordered us some pie. You wanted blueberry, right?
(AGENT DALE COOPER looks up from his cup of coffee)
COOPER: The pie here is wonderful. I haven’t had any this good since I left Twin Peaks.
LS: Well, our time is up. I guess I’ll take that pie to go.
MA: Until next week! See you then.
LS: Maybe next week you’ll actually see the movie.
© Copyright 2010 by L.L. Soares