Director: Atom Egoyan
Cast: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried,
Nina Dobrev, Max Thieriot, R.H. Thomson, Meghan Heffern
RunTime: 1 hr 36 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: R21 (Some mature content)
Official Website: http://www.sonyclassics.com/chloe/
Opening Day: 8 July 2010
CHLOE is a suspenseful story of love and betrayal. When Catherine
a successful doctor, begins to question her husband David‘s
(LIAM NEESON) fidelity,
she sets out to resolve her suspicions with the help of an
alluring young woman,
Chloe (AMANDA SEYFRIED). Soon caught in a web of sexual desire,
herself on a journey that places her family in great danger.
I wonder if it's the norm these days for up and coming actresses looking to gain maturity, credibility or backfiring and gaining notoriety instead, by showing a lot of skin. Picture the Lindsay Lohans and the Vanessa Hudgens in bids to demolish their teenybopper stereotype, or those who took the smaller films route like Anne Hathaway in Havoc, and now Amanda Seyfried, whom we all know as the wholesome Mamma Mia girl, the confused blonde in Dear John or the geeky Needy in Jennifer's Body, to try and showcase their acting chops in more serious, unconventional roles.
Here, Seyfried plays the titular character, a high end call girl who through a voiceover during the opening credits, validates her expertise in using her mouth for pleasures of the flesh, as well as her deftness for saying the right things meant to titillate. You can't help but to agree with her techniques (ahem). A temptress for hire by those seeking short term eroticism, she got engaged by Julianne Moore's Catherine, a successful gynecologist who suspects that her husband David, played by the enigmatic Liam Neeson, is having an affair since temptation comes in the form of his nubile, inquisitive students, and engaged Chloe's services to confirm her suspicions that his general friendliness may harbour something more.
You know what they say about not playing with fire. So begins a psychological game dealing with the notions of sexual power that gets developed into a tale of revenge and lust. But strip away the veneer, and you'll discover that Erin Cressida Wilson's screenplay, based loosely on the film Nathalie starring Fanny Ardant, Emmanuelle Beart and Gerard Depardieu as the leading trio, is more about the troubles that one's insecurity can bring, especially leaving one vulnerable, leading to the manipulation of the weak. And sometimes these insecurities get evolved uncontrollably, such as the general universal truth about how aging affects a man and woman quite differently, and the fear of losing one's partner due to unfounded inadequacies made worst by the lack of meaningful communication. It examines what makes a relationship tick, and how does one grow or sustain it, without which will lead to stagnation and mistrust that will rear its ugly head.
Atom Egoyan's film is made up of moments of brilliance thanks to the all round wonderful acting by the stellar cast, nevermind the rather straightforward manner in which the narrative got across. It is precisely the superb chemistry between the small cast of veterans like Neeson and especially Moore, that makes this a compelling watch. The spotlight will naturally fall on Seyfried as she tackles the role of the seductress who is more than meets the eye. One scene that will definitely take your breath away (and I'm not talking about her sex scenes), is the extreme close up of her just after exiting a clinic, where her eyes alone will light up the entire screen as she showcases a range of emotions, from which the pace of the story will quicken and spiral the narrative toward darkness.
Lensed and filmed in gorgeous tones, I felt that Egoyan had let the cat out of the bag a wee bit early when you realize how one dimensional Chloe's narrative can get, although I suppose can be attributed to Neeson having his scenes shortened because of personal, real life tragedy, which makes you sit up and realize what a consummate professional he is. So much of the accounts fall on Seyfried's delivery of lines drenched with eroticism with descriptions that will make adults blush, so those looking for a lot of kinky action on screen will have to settle for oral accounts instead.
However, despite being rated R21 (the highest classification in Singapore), this is one of those unfortunate films that didn't see itself being passed clean by the censors. Which is a pity because unlike Lust, Caution where distribution was responsible for a scheme involving two versions shown here – for the wider audience and one for those patient enough to wait for the uncut version, this one was a result of a likely objection by the authorities on same-sex situations. For anyone who had seen the different cuts of Lust, Caution, then you'd feel shortchanged with the sanitized version since the film has a sexual element making up for some crucial emotional tussles and development, that is something that will be totally lost on audiences here since it's all butchered away. Chloe the film suffers the same fate.
Which means we will not understand how relationships between characters have developed to an important peak, and neither will we totally comprehend the level of personal insult when money is used to brush aside something special felt, because that was neither implied, nor seen and experienced. Worst, what's lost would have touched upon a sub-theme involving the notion of having somebody be the emotional and physical proxy for another, and this cut both ways. Gone. And whatever's left en route just made this thriller poorer.
I would have given it a higher rating had it not been butchered, but for now the Singapore cut version will have to contend with a rating of..
(Mistrust has a new name)
Review by Stefan Shih