Thursday, March 25, 2010

'Chloe' takes the fun out of sex

Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore study each other.

The kindest thing I can say about Atom Egoyan's Chloe is to express the sincere hope that it's an anomaly from a gifted director with a variable track record.

This time out, Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) has ventured into soapy waters with the story of a gynecologist (Julianne Moore) who tests her marriage by hiring a young prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to tempt her flirtatious husband (Liam Neeson). During the course of all this, Moore's character tests some waters herself, dabbling in a lesbian affair with Seyfried's character.

Despite the erotic nature of the material and a fair measure of nudity, Chloe seems to have been stripped (you'll pardon the expression) of Egoyan's more idiosyncratic touches. Put another way, the erotic undertow that has marked such Egoyan thrillers as Exotica seems to have pushed to the surface. It's as if Egoyan, in adapting the 2004 French film Nathalie, has done his best to create a potboiler with potential to topple art-house walls.

Egoyan finally does himself and the movie in by wandering into Fatal Attraction territory. By that time, the thrill was totally gone -- at least for me. Despite a couple of plot shifts that make us take a closer look at Moore's character, Egoyan's movie enters a rarely achieved realm: It's trashy without being much fun.

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