Sleazy does it
OH, COME on, Atom Egoyan. You’re having a laugh. Aren’t you? Last month’s Adoration was no masterpiece, but you could detect signs of an intellect ticking away. This is just ridiculous.
Sure, Chloe may be based on a “stylish” French film. Yes, it is the work of the cerebral trickster behind The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica. But it plays like one of those cheap erotic thrillers that followed in the wake of Basic Instinct. It should be called something like Deadly Compulsion or Intimate Betrayal.
Anyway it’s called Chloe and it concerns a high-class sex worker of that name. When Dr Julianne Moore catches her husband, scholar Liam Neeson, dallying suspiciously with female students, she hires Chloe (numb Amanda Seyfried) to flash her assets in the towering academic’s direction. The escort will test the strength of Neeson’s fidelity and report the gruesome details to her suspicious employer.
Well, the film’s not quite called Forbidden Passion for nothing. Chloe tells of furtive gropings at the botanical garden and, when Moore crumbles, lures her between the sheets for a soft-focus lesbian love romp (no other word will do) that would shame the makers of Nine 1/2 Weeks.
You have to hand it to the classy actors. Despite the ever-increasing absurdity, they manage to keep straight faces and deliver the dialogue with superhuman sincerity. And Chloe does offer a few dubiously diverting moments of transgressive drama. When, after being spurned by Moore, Chloe casts her eyes towards the couple’s son, the creepiness sets the pulse racing.
But this is a dishonest piece of work. If it starred Sandy BouncyBouncy and was directed by Dirk McSleazy, it would never even be mentioned in the pages of The Irish Times. Seek out Exotic Reversal instead. You’ll find it on the bottom shelf.