CHLOE Blu-ray Review

     August 1, 2010

Ah, the erotic thriller. A genre of ill repute that maintained a place in American culture on home video and late night cable through the eighties and nineties, the films of their ilk have dried up in the twenty first century. Why? It’s twofold, on one hand it’s that studios – if they want to do mainstream business – would rather make a film that isn’t rated R, and on the other the rise of internet pornography and the internet in general means that any nude scene can be found online. 2010’s Chloe relies more on the intrigue of its story over tawdry thrills, as Julianne Moore plays a wife convinced her husband (Liam Neeson) is having an affair, and hires a prostitute named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to see if she can’t seduce him, and in doing so excites the wife in unexpected ways. My review of Atom Egoyan’s Chloe on Blu-ray after the jump.

Unfortunately for Chloe and everyone involved, by the time the film came out theatrically – after a number of festival screenings – the nude scenes were posted on line in fuzzy form. And unfortunately – though the film has some interesting twists and turns – Egoyan doesn’t have the right chops for this sort of movie. The film seems to fight with itself.

Julianne Moore’s Catherine Stewart starts the film preparing a surprise party for her husband David (Neeson). He’s in New York giving a presentation, and she’s got all their friends there, while her son Michael (Max Thieriot) goes up to his bedroom with his girlfriend. She’s distracted by the party, but then David calls and said he missed his flight. When he gets home she finds a suspicious email with a photo attached, and his reasons for missing the flight seem to fall apart under scrutiny. Then Catherine meets Chloe (Seyfried) in a restaurant. The two share a moment, and then later Moore comes to a bar and picks up Chloe. Catherine wants Chloe to tempt her husband. Chloe does so and reports back, but nothing comes of it. Catherine isn’t satisfied, so she presses and Chloe tries again, this time to some success. When Catherine goes home she pleasures herself in the shower to the details. This is where the film gets interesting. Is she thinking about her husband or Chloe?

From there the film gets a bit Sapphic, but then turns Chloe into the monster that seems inevitable in this sort of thriller, and that’s where the film goes off the rails. Egoyan seems perfectly suited for this as a character piece, but when it veers into Fatal Attraction/Hitchcock territory, everything seems to become obligatory, including the eventual purging. The film takes a while to get going, and though the pieces have to come into place, when it set up that this was a legitimate triangle, I thought the film had somewhere to go that wasn’t just standard erotic thriller territory, but those hopes get dashed something fierce. There’s a good film in here, and perhaps it’s in the French film this was based on, but there’s at least two good movies in the film, and the film delivers neither that successfully.

As per the nudity, Amanda Seyfried does it in an arty way (as opposed to the more blatant “look at my boobs” of Halle Berry in Swordfish); I don’t think it adds much to the story (though it’s hard to justify wearing a bra while humping someone, so at least it’s justified). Whereas Julianne Moore’s nudity in the film is the real highlight, as it speaks to how she uses her body – when she exposes herself, or wears a slightly see-through white T-shirt it all plays to the character of a woman feeling past her prime in her mind, but still has some sex appeal. The film is fascinating in that way, even if the film as a whole isn’t successful.

Sony’s Blu-ray presents the film in widescreen (1.78:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 surround. This is a small movie, so even thought the transfers spot on; expect the reads to be engaged mostly by the score. Extras include a commentary by director Atom Egoyan, screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson, and star Amanda Seyfried. It’s a good track, though Seyfried is a little submissive about chiming in. There’s a making of (25 min.) and two deleted scenes (5 min.) The film’s trailer is included, along with bonus trailers.

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