Atom Egoyan is one of Canada’s most celebrated auteur filmmakers but you would never know it from watching his latest, “Chloe”. I thought the hyper-sexualized erotic thriller went out in the ‘90’s but Egoyan seems bent on bringing it back with this remake of the 2004 Anne Fontaine film “Nathalie…”. He also seems bent on proving that Toronto, where the film takes place, is just as stylish as New York City, but he may just end up ruining his reputation for being talented and insightful at the same time.
Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) is the first person we meet. She is pulling up her stockings, presumably getting dressed after an intimate encounter, or on her way to one, from the look of her under garments. She thinks to herself about how much attention must be paid to detail in her line of work. As she continues on about sexual needs and how to anticipate them, it becomes explicitly clear what line of work that really is. The words that come out of her mouth are sharp and meant to be shocking. Only we’ve met this girl plenty of times already and she has nothing new to say. She’s just pretty when she says it.
We next meet Catherine and David Stewart (Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson). They are a well-to-do couple who have been together for many years and have an adolescent son living with them. They are surrounded by excess and yet she’s miserable and he doesn’t care. She suspects he’s having an affair; he flirts shamelessly in front of her. They can’t even work together when it comes to dealing with their own son. It should be no surprise then that instead of confronting her husband when she suspects him of having an affair that she hires a prostitute to trap him so that she can know for a fact. Enter Chloe and exit all sense of suspense and surprise.
Let alone that rich, white people bringing problems upon themselves is hardly something an audience can sympathize with, Egoyan is also overtly obvious with all of his other intentions as well. I understand that he wants to open the discussion about sexual politics and the increasing disconnected nature of our modern society but I don’t need scene after scene of Seyfried talking dirty to Moore about her husband or a breakup on web cam to get those points. And while Seyfried does her best to remain hauntingly distant and neutral throughout to mask her deep-rooted emotional issues, it is still pretty clear every step of the way what is coming next. “Chloe” is a thriller without any thrills, sexual or otherwise. Toronto looks good though.
Review by Joseph Bélanger