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Total Film

April 2010

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Director Atom Egoyan
Starring Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried
Cert 15

Rating ***

Mamma Mia! fans look away now – yes, that’s ABBA-crooning cutie Amanda Seyfried in the opening scene of Chloe, giving saucy insight into her high-class hooker’s fantasy services while snapping garter to stocking.

As ABBA chirped in ‘Voulez Vous’, “A sense of expectation’s hanging in the air…” Expectation that Seyfried and Chloe fulfil? Well, yes for the actress. As for the film, Swedish pop wisdom applies again: “Here we go again, we know the start, we know the end…”

There’s an overriding sense of familiarity about Chloe, and not just because we’ve grown used to seeing Julianne Moore kick it out in cosy domestic set-ups that unravel into festering wifely/motherly torment. Liam Neeson’s also a dependably sturdy building block for directors needing someone to make two-dimensional ciphers watchable.

They’re both fine in predictable parts – but, hired by Moore’s mistrustful gynaecologist to incriminate Neeson’s maybe-cheating spousal ass, it’s Seyfried who gives Chloe its beguiling contours.

With Egoyan working from a script by Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary), the burgeoning sexual frisson and shifting power dynamic between Moore and Seyfried are Chloe’s strongest suit, the two actresses bringing tingling electricity to their scenes together – including a much-buzzed-about lesbian clinch.

This is Egoyan’s first gig as a jobbing director, however, and it shows. The idiosyncratic Canadian has proved expert at dipping into gaping psychic wounds (The Sweet Hereafter) and slinky eroticism (Exotica), but there are few distinguishing details that would help you blind-pick Chloe out of a B-movie line-up, apart from its Toronto setting.

Egoyan strives to coat his tale in Hitchcockian gloss, but the suspense element is both the least compelling and most blearily generic side of Chloe.

Executed with half-hearted imprecision, you hope that Egoyan’s actually parodying Hollywood’s love of harebrained thrillers where unhinged women disrupt nuclear family bliss. But you know it’s not true.

Remaking the French hit Natalie, Atom Egoyan uses A-list trappings to fashion a B-movie romp that’s sleek, slick – and not a bit silly. Seyfried gives Chloe the vital boost it needs.

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