Chloe
You ladies come here often?

Theatrical Release Date: 03/26/2010
Director: Atom Egoyan
Cast: Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Max Theriot, R.H. Thomson, Nina Dobrev

A wife suspects her husband of infidelity and hires someone to ascertain the truth of the matter. Seen it before. A brief affair turns into a fatal attraction. Seen that too. However, what “Chloe” does well is mix the two, all the while providing character development and a genuine sense of intimacy.

To no big surprise, such a genre bending film comes from director Atom Egoyan. His career has been all about searching for emotional truth within unconventional situations. However, he normally pens his own material and being as this is the first feature film Egoyan has helmed without writing it, it says a great deal about his admiration of the screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson (based on Anne Fontaine’s 2003 French film, “Nathalie”) .

What makes her treatment of the material impressive is that it’s not just a simple translation of French to English. The film bears many of the same nuances and subtleties present in Wilson’s script for 2002′s “Secretary”, which dealt in similar emotional tones. While this is unmistakably based on the original film, this is more of a reinterpretation than remake as Wilson and Egoyan move the story in a new direction and the conclusions we make about the characters are wholly different.

The casting could not have been more perfect (maybe Max Theriot could be replaced but he’s okay too). First of all, they tapped Julianne Moore to walk a delicate line of damaged mother and wife / successful doctor. Her life is spinning our of control because she doesn’t know how to connect with either her husband (Liam Neeson) or son (Theriot) at this point and sees Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) as a way to understand her husband again. Moore has always, and continues to be, so good at portraying layered characters – people at an emotional crossroads looking to find some balance.

The welcome surprise is Amanda Seyfried. She’s been known for less challenging work (“Mamma Mia“, Jennifer’s Body“, “Dear John“) and here takes on a role that requires her to shed those preconceived notions and show an unseen side of herself. The character of Chloe is that of a seemingly confident young woman who is, upon closer inspection, desperately searching to find herself. She sees in Moore’s character the type of woman she’d like to have become and ends up so fixated on the notion that it shifts the film’s entire genre from erotic drama to thriller.

For those who follow celebrity news, this is the film that Neeson was shooting when his wife Natasha Richardson died, due to complications from a tragic skiing accident. While it may add an extra sense of poignancy to the role, seeing as the film is so much about intimacy and the complicated marital relationship being portrayed, Neeson is nearly always just as present and sublime so it came as no surprise to see his excellent performance here.

We’ve all seen the cookie cutter love triangles turned thriller and to an extent, that’s what “Nathalie” is. However, here the eroticism is played up effectively and intelligently, thanks to both Wilson and Egoyan whose sensibilities make such a perfect pairing. Impressively, this is better than the original and an exception to the rule about remaking foreign films for an English speaking audience. A 4 out of 5, “Chloe” impressively explores intimacy between these three wounded souls and is somehow both powerful and subtle all at the same time.