October 1st 2010 01:02
A wife grows paranoid and suspicious of her husband. To test her doubts, she hires a prostitute to seduce him. Enter Chloe: a wide-eyed, doll-faced high class hooker played by Amanda Seyfried.
Underpinned by themes of desperation and deception, Chloe is strongly reminiscent of erotic thrillers such as Fatal Attraction and Single White Female. It is in fact a remake of a 2004 French film called Nathalie... A little overcooked, director Atom Egoyan is unafraid to indulge in the stuff of melodrama and obsession-fuelled madness.
Julianne Moore typifies this psychosis in the role of the distrusting wife of David. Desperate to make him fall in love with her once again, we witness her intimate need to feel desired. Meantime, David, played by Liam Neeson, is a busy college professor, and a flirt. He misses his flight back home and talks regularly to dedicated students over the Internet. The seeds of doubt are firmly planted in the mind of the wife, and ours too.
It’s a far from wise decision to hire Chloe, but the inner torment is too strong to bear and the temptation too great. Predictably, David becomes besotted with the porcelain skinned Chloe; and from the way he films her, so too did Egoyan. But there is a cunning, almost unfair trickery to the cinematography of the film, which adds to its apparently unexpected twist.
Moore and Neeson both give solid performances but they’re not in top form. More than anything, they serve as clichéd personalities that invite the potent presence of Amanda Seyfried. A far cry from Jennifer’s Body or Mean Girls, Seyfried is a commanding loose cannon – quietly unhinged and unnervingly formidable.
The film however dissipates into a rushed and inadequately explained third act. There’s explicit lesbian material, an intervening son, and even a few overt Hitchcock shout-outs – none of which seem to add up or make that much sense. Nonetheless, Chloe is impressive, as a tale of deceit and in the way it stirs, and plays, with memories of the original bunny boiler.