Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quick Look: CHLOE

In Chloe, Julianne Moore feels emotionally cut-off from her teenage son (Max Thieriot) and suspects that her husband (Liam Neeson) is cheating on her. Rather than rest on her suspicions, and yearning for a way out of the loneliness and distance she feels growing in her familial relationships, she hires a prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to flirt with her husband, befriend him, and see if he’ll have an affair. From that bare-bones plot description, it sounds like the film’s interests lie only in its more prurient scenes. While, yes, the film is interested to a certain extent in what goes on between sheets, it is a film that is much more interested in what goes on behind closed doors. And that is an important distinction. The film is not about sex; it’s about secrets. It’s not about affairs; it’s about what we assume. It’s not about what we see; it’s about what we think we see. Director Atom Egoyan is keenly interested in the darker side of human nature, the self-destructive, impulsive desires lurking in the corners of our minds. Chloe is no Exotica or The Sweet Hereafter, to name two better Egoyan efforts, but it’s still a dark, gut-twisting thriller about these characters and the way they interact (or don’t). It’s an exceedingly well-crafted exercise, well-acted and handsomely shot, but one that’s at its best the further it strays from standard thriller tropes. Funnily enough, the film only gains tension the more it gets away from questions like “who knows what?” and “what’s around the corner?” Egoyan’s film falls apart in the last act, with Erin Cressida Wilson's script giving in to its latent thriller tendencies in some fairly goofy ways. But isn’t it funny that the film shares the same downfall as its characters? They, too, find it hard to resist the allure of that which could leave them worse off than before.

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