Jul 032010
 

The 2009 erotic thriller Chloe was directed by Atom Egoyan (Adoration), and like the 2004 French film Nathalie… upon which it is based, asks the question; just what would happen if you took a marriage that was severely lacking in trust, already overly dysfunctional, and on the verge of breaking apart, and inserted a young prostitute with her own agenda?

Catherine (Julianne Moore, Shelter) and David Stewart (Liam Neeson, Taken) make up the seemingly average married couple; who both have upstanding jobs (she’s a Gynecologist, and he’s a professor at a well-respected university), and a rebellious 17-year-old son named Michael (Max Thieriot, Jumper); but are constantly trying to hide the fact that they have become insufferably distant from one another, distrustful of one another, and are often tempted to cheat, and lie to each other about where they have been and what they have been doing.

And it’s after discovering David’s latest lie (he claimed that the reason he missed the very expensive birthday party Catherine had organized for him, was that he missed his flight home, when actually he went out for dinner with a young girl who attends one of his classes) that Catherine begins to seriously suspect him of cheating on her (and the fact that he openly flirts with any woman he sees, right in front of her, doesn’t help), and asks a young call-girl named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer’s Body) (who she met by accident one night, whilst out for a meal), to act as a honey-trap; attempting to seduce David, and report back on his actions to Catherine.

It’s clear from this point that they aren’t quite the average couple that they seem to be, as most people who have doubts don’t go to quite the same lengths as Catherine to catch their partner out, and Catherine herself is sometimes apprehensive; being disgusted by the vividly descriptive stories that Chloe tells her about the encounters she has with her husband, yet cannot help but listen, and grows closer and closer to Chloe, and the stories become more and more intimate with each meeting she recants.

It’s an obvious recipe for disaster, as it can only can on for so long, before one of only a handful of outcomes are reached (all of which are not very pleasant); yet the suspense is played out nicely, and while it isn’t the most compelling film ever, it does leave viewers wanting to not only find out what happens, but witness the inevitable fall out; and whilst the scene that everyone will no doubt be waiting for (the scene that’s usually a certainty to appear in these types of films) doesn’t ever happen, there’s a few twists and turns that are bound to excite it’s viewers.

Liam Neeson’s part was cut slightly short in the movie, due to the untimely death of his wife Natasha Richardson (The Parent Trap), but his presence is felt throughout the entirety of the picture, and his acting (even after returning to shoot only a few days after the death of his wife) is top-notch; David is very different from the man Liam played in Taken or Batman Begins, and is like a much slicker (slightly pervy) version of the character he played in Love Actually; he always comes off as perfectly charming, and acts like a real ladies man that it would be extremely hard to trust, yet you never know quite what he has done, or what he’s thinking.

Julianne Moore is also excellent in her role as the downtrodden wife, who’s not been beaten or abused, but feels as though her whole family has grown so far apart from her that she is standing all alone, and will do anything to recapture the connections she once had with her husband. Her character does some truly outrageous things (as hiring a prostitute to not only catch your husband out and shame him for being the cheater that she’s knows him to be, but repeatedly sleep with him after she’s been informed of the deed, isn’t exactly the direction most people would take to reclaim a fading connection), yet she always stays perfectly believable in her role, and seems to convey a feeling of reserved hesitation that makes even Catherine’s most ludicrous decisions convincing.

Amanda Seyfried is also acceptable (yet not overly impressive) as the film’s call-girl, Chloe; she can come across as quite strange, and very often appears less powerful than an escort of her stature would usually appear, yet manages to bring a good deal of accuracy to the obsessive side of her character (who can often seem very threatening, especially when her motives aren’t entirely clear); something that may be down to the quality of the writing (and the unexpected twists the story takes), rather than her ability as an actress.

Overall Chloe is a fairly basic erotic thriller that includes the twisted relationship that’s bound to end up with the a fiery collision, a lot of soft lighting, and several scenes that are little more than soft-core pornography; although it does manage to grip those that watch it for its entirety, as it’s just different enough from the rest of it’s competitors to make it a worthwhile watch.

The acting is solid (and the big-name cast is probably the only thing that has made it a mainstream movie), and the plot is decent enough, however the climax feels like a bit of a let down, as it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of affair that doesn’t do the main story justice, and will leave most viewers with the same feeling that they would get from watching most erotic thrillers; a somewhat uneasy feeling that gives them either a sense of vindication or jealousy, as they realize that their lives are nothing like that of the Stewart’s.

Picture:

Chloe’s video comes by way of a full 1080p transfer that easily does justice to the film; it’s consistently clean, and contains no notable print errors whatsoever, and although the colour is mostly soft and subdued, it is still fairly solid, and pops in a number of scenes, with decent contrast levels throughout, and a level of fine detail that doesn’t top all Blu-ray releases so far, but is more than one would expect to see in a film of this nature (where the actors/filmmakers usually try and cover certain things up), and as there are consistently accurate fleshtones displayed, and no overly heavy grain, this is an excellent representation of the source, and the best that Chloe is ever likely to look.

Audio:

Likewise the 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix that brings the sound of Chloe to life is just about as strong, and while it does tend to heavily favour the front of the soundstage (being a dialogue heavy feature), there are plenty of moments where the rear speakers are used (mostly for ambient effects, and occasionally to amplify Mychael Danna’s impressive score), and the dialogue that is presented by the front always sounds impeccable. There’s little LFE involved with this track (it only comes into play for sections of the musical score), but overall it’s a solid enough mix that wont initially dazzle listeners, or draw them in instantly, but it recreates everything it has to with more than a degree of accuracy, and gets the most important part of this film’s track, the dialogue, spot-on.

Extras:

The special features included with Chloe are surprisingly extensive, and include a handful of deleted scenes (which were rightfully removed as they add little to the film as a whole), an alternate ending (which is again pointless as it’s practically the same as the standard one), a making of (which includes interviews with the producer, Ghostbusters’ own Ivan Reitman, director, and principal cast, and is actually rather interesting, informative, and extensive; a must watch for fans of the film), and a collection of interviews (that amount to nothing more than mere press pieces, and retread much of the ground already covered).

There’s also a trailer for the film, and a photo gallery, and while they do little to impress, the majority of the bonus material is fairly extensive (the making of itself lasts over 25 minutes) and well made; meaning that the collection of supplements included here should easily satisfy the film’s fans.

The Bottom Line:

Chloe has received a solid Blu-ray release, with a high-level of picture and audio quality that is more than adequate (and more than one would expect of the genre), and has a range of special features than may contain some filler, but are mostly well produced, interesting, and extensively informative, features that will be sure to please fans of the film.

The plot, and style of the movie, is fairly typical of a film classified as an erotic thriller, although it’s still well written, and impeccably acted for the most part, and never becomes too predictable; there’s plenty of suspense, horror, and a few twists that most viewers will find genuinely shocking, and while the finale may feel somewhat limp in comparison to the majority of the story, it’s still worth watching because it’s just a awkwardly tense and gripping as a film of this nature should be, and doesn’t feel like a simple excuse to watch celebrity sex scenes in soft lighting (as many of these films clearly are), as there’s generally a point to the characters actions.

Definitely not one for the kids, but any film fan who likes well acted, European style, movies in the spirit of Fatal Attraction, and Vicky Christina Barcelona,  is likely to get something positive out of watching Chloe.