Thursday, July 22, 2010


There was a time when Atom Egoyan made beautiful, subtle films. Exotica tops my list, followed closely by The Sweet Hereafter and Felicia's Journey. Then I somehow skipped a few and saw Adoration last year. I thought it was a fluke, he'd get back to his senses. But now with Chloe, I'm getting worried.

A middle aged couple (Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson) in Toronto is growing apart from one another (or she thinks so). The wife hires a prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to see if the husband will go astray. There is also a teenage son (Max Thieriot). Things get complicated. That he is a music professor and the plot seems to have jumped out of Così fan tutte is probably not a coincidence, but doesn't save the film.

Everything in Chloe looks beautiful. People (Moore! Neeson! Seyfried! Thieriot not so much.), clothes, houses, hotel rooms, even the doctor's office are all gorgeous. But everyone is so devoid of any humanity (maybe precisely because they are always so well-kept) that I found it impossible to care about any of them. And maybe I watch too many movies, but the narrative twist that is (presumably) supposed to give us the 'wow' effect is clearly visible from miles away.

One thing that's been on my mind: at the very beginning of the film, Moore's character (an ob-gyn specialist) explains to a patient how an orgasm works ("it's a series of muscle contractions, nothing mysterious about it"). If Egoyan is then trying to show that desire is not that simple and is in fact mysterious, he's comparing apples and oranges. Or so I thought.

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