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Chloe DVD Review

Chloe movie poster Chloe

Theatrical Release: March 26, 2010 / Running Time: 96 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Atom Egoyan / Writers: Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay); Philippe Blasband, Anne Fontaine, Jacques Fieschi, Francois-Olivier Rousseau (motion picture Nathalie)

Cast: Julianne Moore (Catherine Stewart), Liam Neeson (David Stewart), Amanda Seyfried (Chloe Sweeney), Max Thieriot (Michael Stewart), R.H. Thomson (Frank), Nina Dobrev (Anna), Mishu Vellani (Receptionist), Julie Khaner (Bimsy), Natalie Lisinska (Eliza), Tiffany Knight (Trina), Meghan Heffern (Miranda)

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Toronto gynecologist Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) is not happy. Her husband of many years, David (Liam Neeson), has missed his flight home and, along with it, the lavish, well-attended surprise birthday party she threw him. Between the lack of notice he pays her, the indiscriminate flirting he does with the rest of the opposite sex, and a text message she sees from one of his collegiate music students, Catherine is convinced that David is cheating on her. Enter Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), a young woman who will shatter notions of prostitutes gathered from watching "COPS." This lady of the day and night is clean, beautiful, independent, articulate, and affluent. But she does have sex for money.

After meeting her in a restaurant bathroom, Catherine decides to hire Chloe in an unusual way.
She'll pay for Chloe to test David's fidelity, arranging for the girl to show up at his regular lunch spot and report on what happens. Chloe does this and shares the results with Catherine. This continues, with Chloe apparently more than just tempting David. She recounts their increasingly sexual encounters in great detail to Catherine, who receives them with a complex mixture of sadness, jealousy, and arousal.

The arrangement grows more sordid at the revelation that, prior to Chloe, David might have been faithful to his wife. And more complicated at the prospect that Chloe may be attracted to Catherine and maybe vice versa. And there's also Catherine and David's testy teenaged son, Michael (Max Thieriot), whose indiscreet bedroom adventures with his girlfriend are more than just a troubling reminder of Catherine's involuntary abstinence.

Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) casts an unfriendly glare at David (Liam Neeson), the husband she suspects is unfaithful to her. High-class prostitute Chloe Sweeney (Amanda Seyfried) is formally introduced in a fancy public restroom.

Chloe is a remake of the 2003 French film Nathalie..., which you probably haven't heard of. Like all French films, it starred Gιrard Depardieu, who played the Neeson role. It is adapted here by Secretary screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson and respected Canadian director Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter). That probably explains why three well-known actors in very high demand would sign on for what kind of reads like one of the late-night softcore flicks that Cinemax is known for.

You certainly don't see many erotic thrillers these days, at least not North American ones from Academy Award-nominated directors destined to play to the arthouse crowd. That curious mixture gives Chloe a distinctive feel which bridges thoughtful, artistic presentation with smutty storytelling. It is an odd film that gives plenty of reasons not to oblige its demands to be taken seriously. At its heart, there is a sincere interest in what causes long-term love to wither. But after putting that mystery out there, the film ignores it to instead show us the lurid dealings with Chloe, who might be obsessive and perhaps even psychotic.

The three lead actors bring noticeable effort to the film. Given the most work, Julianne Moore has to convey vulnerability, desperation, and bisexuality. Her performance doesn't leave much to be desired, but the character does and it seems impossible to unify these opposing motivations of self and family in a believable way. Liam Neeson, widowed near the end of the shoot, capably assumes a lecherous air and wandering eye, but largely limited to Chloe's anecdotes, he's kept at bay from us. Having made this before her mainstream appeal was confirmed, Amanda Seyfried seems determined to prove her acting talents and range. She straddles the line that the titular role calls for and does not shy from the film's titillative demands (if you know what I mean).

Chloe's (Amanda Seyfried) big blue eyes seem even bigger in her dramatic close-up look at the camera. Well, this is different. Catherine (Julianne Moore) gets a passionate neck kissing and more from Chloe, the prostitute she hired to tempt her husband.

Ultimately, the thought and care that goes into the film's design feels a bit wasted. There is a big twist it's impossible not to foresee and things only go downhill from there.
This is a movie where a satisfying ending could go far to raise or at least cushion the viewer's opinion. Chloe goes the other way with stupid but perhaps unavoidable conventionality, suffering for it.

Like almost all of the ten or so 2010 films treated to a moderately limited release of a few hundred US and Canadian theaters, Chloe didn't break out. In spite of the star power, the film earned domestically just one-fifth of its $15 million production budget. That isn't much compared to the bigger Neeson and Seyfried films that have gone to cinemas this year. For Moore, who turns 50 in December, this wasn't far from the soft performances of her other comparable recent releases. From the looks of it, she's got a better chance for commerce and art to align on the acclaimed indie dramedy The Kids Are All Right, opening in a few cities tomorrow.

Chloe may not be a big film, but Sony deems it big enough for a Blu-ray release next Tuesday. Nevertheless, we look at the format that most will see the film on, standard DVD.

Buy Chloe on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: July 13, 2010
Suggested Retail Price: $27.96
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($34.95 SRP)


The picture is immaculate on Chloe's 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen DVD. Egoyan and his regular cinematographer Paul Sarossy bathe certain scenes in striking bright white and others in darkness. The film looks great in either condition, with its polished visuals coming across cleanly besides an aptly small amount of fine grain. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack needs to be cranked up, but once that's done, it provides a nice subtle experience.

Atom Egoyan directs Liam Neeson in the prolixly-titled "Introducing Chloe: The Making of 'Chloe' Directed by Atom Egoyan." Michael (Max Thieriot) explains the animosity he holds for his mother in this deleted scene. Chloe's film-opening dressing in black underwear makes an appearance in the DVD main menu's magic mirror.


The DVD's extras begin with an audio commentary by director Atom Egoyan, writer Erin Cressida Wilson, and star Amanda Seyfried.

Egoyan leads the discussion, paying attention to visuals and acting and clarifying his belief that films are open to ongoing interpretation. Although Seyfried stays fairly quiet, this still has more going for it than the typical commentary, especially when it shifts from the technical to the theoretical, as in speculating on characters' pasts.

"Introducing Chloe: The Making of Chloe Directed by Atom Egoyan" (25:40) wields a length and weight befitting its title. Though it hits the same points as most featurettes, this is more about the craft and less about sounding cheery on camera, reflecting the nature of a low-budget production. Among those heard from are Egoyan, insightful Wilson, producer Ivan Reitman, and the three leads. They discuss the characters and story and we also get real behind-the-scenes footage of Egoyan actually directing.

Two notable deleted scenes (5:22) are presented. The first gives us backstories to Chloe and Michael, and the second recalls the latter in the boy's (Max Thieriot) own words.

Finally, we get Chloe's 2-minute theatrical trailer, a nice touch afforded most Sony Pictures Classics releases.

Promos play at disc insertion for The Runaways, The Square, and The Secret in Their Eyes. These three can also be accessed from the Previews menu, which adds trailers for A Single Man, "The Pillars of the Earth", A Prophet (Un Prophete), Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, and "Damages": The Complete Second Season.

The DVD's main menu runs a steamy montage in a swaying mirror among colorful lights.

Julianne Moore conveys the complex mix of emotions Catherine feels at hearing Chloe (reflected in mirror) detail her paid sexual experiences with David.


In Chloe, serious filmmaker Atom Egoyan and his earnest cast bring artful touches to a story that doesn't quite earn them. Though ideas are raised on subjects like adultery, obsession, and lust, they're given less thought than the unlikely love triangle formed between a young high-class prostitute and a distanced middle-aged couple. Basically, you get accomplished actors in a relatively high-budget and high-minded erotic thriller.

Sony's DVD delivers a top-notch feature presentation and an entirely satisfactory collection of extras. If you're compelled, you may as well give this one a look.

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Reviewed July 8, 2010.

Text copyright 2010 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Sony Pictures Classics, StudioCanal, The Montecito Picture Company, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.