Tuesday, August 10, 2010

That Chloe Is Such A Tease...


Atom Egoyan is often on the receiveing end of a lot of blogger’s tongue lashings. I am not sure why he strikes up so much venom in some people. Egoyan is a skilled director who has made some very good films over the years. I feel it has to do with the way critics, especially here in Canada, tend to fawn over him a little more than they do David Cronenberg. Despite his accolades even Atom Egoyan can stumble every now and then. I would not call Chloe a major misstep, as there are many good moments in the film, but it does not reach the level of intrigue it really should.

Chloe is a remake of the 2003 French film, Nathalie, which starred Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant, and Gérard Depardieu. In Atom Egoyan’s version of the tale, Catherine (Julianne Moore) suspects that her husband David (Liam Neeson) is cheating. Unable to shake her suspicions, Catherine hires a prostitute, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), to see if David will succumb to temptation. Soon Chloe is providing Catherine with regular updates of her encounters with David. As the two women spend more time together, Catherine becomes increasingly more aroused by the sordid details of Chloe’s reports.

It has been over a week now since I watched Chloe and I must admit I am still on the fence about it. There are elements I thought worked very well in the film, but there are times where the film does not live up to its potential. Despite making a film with all the trappings of a salacious Fatal Attraction-style tale, Atom Egoyan never seems comfortable with fully committing to the genre. There is a great scene in the film where Amanda Seyfried’s Chloe, on the brink of tears, stops and gives a chilling look directly into camera. The look clearly says that the gloves are off and all hell is about to break loose. Instead of capatilizing on this scene, Egoyan pulls back the tension and tries to make the film more artsy than thriller. Unfortunately the more he tries to avoid the conventional route, the deeper within it he actually falls. Atom Egoyan’s uneasiness is most evident in the final act of the film. It is at this point where the director backs himself into a corner with no other choice but to go the traditional Hollywood style ending. The ending of the film is sloppy and almost laughable. It is hard to believe that any of the characters would end up in the state they are in by time the final scene hits.

I think it would have been wiser for Egoyan to go with a completely different path in regards to the way the film plays out. I understand that he is remaking another person’s work, but he should have taken more liberties with the script if he wanted to make a serious character study. Instead of turning the ending into a straight thriller, he could have found another way highlight the consequences of desire and betrayal. The interesting thing is that for the first two-thirds of Chloe, Egoyan really seems to understand what is driving all of his characters. Catherine is disgust by the thought of her husband cheating, but she is also turned on by the youthful recklessness of it all. She feels abandoned by all the men in her life and wonders how she ended up in this state. The relationship between Chloe and Catherine is intriguing because both women are having their different needs met. Chloe thinks she is getting the love that has evaded her, partly due to her line of work, for so long.

Personally, I found Chloe to be the real victim in the tale. She is the only one I actually felt something for by the end. A large reason for this is the great work that Amanda Seyfried does in the film. Instead of making Chloe a deranged character, Seyfried brings a human element to every one of Chloe’s actions. Her scene with Julianne Moore are what really keep the film interesting; they play off each other so well that it I wanted to see their relationship develop far more than it actually does. Liam Neeson is good in the film though his character is fairly stunted overall.

If the film had to be graded on the first two acts then I would highly recommend it. Unfortunately the last half really derails the overall film. At best I would have to give Chloe a mild recommendation as the potential was there. I just wish Atom Egoyan had been more daring and confident in regards to his direction this time around.

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