(Seyfried captivates as Chloe)
Starring Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried. Directed by Atom Egoyan. 99 minutes. 18A
Who would have thought that of all the Mean Girls, it would be the actress behind the wide-eyed, dopey chick to star alongside Oscar nominees Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson, and against such forces, still steal the attention. Amanda Seyfried is the pulse throughout Chloe.
In Chloe, Catherine (Moore) begins to suspect her husband, David (Neeson), is cheating on her when he misses his flight back home on his birthday, and she later finds a photo on his phone hugging a student of his. Bumping into a pretty, young prostitute (Seyfried) one day in a restaurant washroom, a comforting exchange turns awkward and Catherine leaves. Seemingly by coincidence, they meet again at a bar. The young woman introduces herself as Chloe. Confused and heartbroken by the suspicion of her husband, Catherine hires Chloe to test her husband, to flirt with him to see how he responds, to find out if he is really cheating on her. Chloe accepts and as the days go on, Chloe reports explicit details back. Catherine becomes vulnerable and meetings start to become more than business transactions.
It’s always tough to know what to expect when a film gets such mixed reviews. When A. O. Scott says it “lacks any real dramatic vitality or emotional charge” yet Ebert gives it three and a half stars out of four, what are you supposed to think, other than that it seems like a really daring movie that either went horribly wrong or brilliantly beautiful. Dare give it a shot? Yes, because it turns out to be the latter.
Chloe is a spider. She weaves together a strangely sticky, embroidered web between relationships, imagination and suspicions, inviting unsuspecting prey to step foot in her domain, but along the way, gets caught herself. Seyfried is chilling as the closely-shadowing weaver. She’s convincing and expressive as Chloe, who we see as old beyond her years but not hardened. She’s fragile but brazen. Seyfried’s doe-eyes are perfectly suited to her character, whether lost off in the distance, fixed on something she aches for far away, or welled up with heartbreak. Her pouty lips also childishly smile at unexpected moments, making you wonder what she’s thought of but won’t tell you.
Neeson too brings charge to his scenes, whether falling victim to Chloe in Allan Gardens or overbrimming with angry when accused by his wife in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Moore also brings an expected emotional performance. Her hasty distrustfulness seems real when she first checks her husband’s phone, as does her supposed revenge, but we’ve come to expect this from Moore.
What’s unexpected though is how sexy Atom Egoyan makes Toronto look. Do our streets really look so picturesque? Are our cafes so charming? Do our bars look that trendy? Even in rain and slush, our city looks gorgeous. It also seems a bit dark and mysterious, much like the title character. The two seem a perfect synonym, Chloe in her flowing blonde locks and underhanded ways, Toronto in it’s beautiful shadows.
Strangely entrancing, Chloe won’t let you turn away. A