Movie News & Reviews

Moore's work slightly saves predictable 'Chloe'

One time I tried to build a car out of four turtles and a whip.

I ran into problems pretty fast. First, it turned out one of theturtles was an Italian species, but my axles weren't metric, so I hadto throw it out. I replaced it with an especially fat toad, which justled to all kinds of suspension problems. Once I got on the road, youknow what I discovered? Turtle shells don't really react to whipping.I went home for a sledgehammer to see if that would spur them on, butthe initial trial was less than encouraging.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Some designs aren't meant to work no matter how much tinkering you do.Halfway through the erotic thriller Chloe, I was reminded thisis true of stories, too — no matter how clever it may be, any turn ofevents that requires you to rehash the same scene three times in a rowis a big fat finger pointing at a story problem. In Chloe'scase, not only was that problem boring, but it also gives away the very twistit's trying to protect.

When Liam Neeson misses his own birthday party, his wife JulianneMoore becomes suspicious he's cheating. She hires prostitute AmandaSeyfried to see if she can seduce him.

Soon, Seyfried is making regular reports of their budding affair. Mooreis devastated, but she's intrigued, too — perhaps as much by Seyfriedas by her husband's depravity.

Which might not sound like much plot, but who needs that when you'vegot Moore-on-Seyfried action. Sure, pretend like that wasn't the firstquestion on your mind. It's the first thing I'd ask and I don't evenparticularly care. Not after watching Seyfried in the tame-as-a-dead-retriever Dear John.

Chloe isn't any more exciting than that cinematic sleepingpill. The particulars of its plot requires almost all the action tohappen offscreen, then get summarized verbally. That could work if thescript were especially sharp or funny, but writer Erin CressidaWilson's dialogue is just decent. If they were talking about explodingrobots or some sort of society where bears keep human pets, that mightfly.

Instead, we get tepid descriptions of coffee shop meet-ups andgreenhouse handjobs. Several years later (real years — coveringmovie-years with Chloe's pacing would take so long you'd walkout of the theater into Planet of the Bears), stuff finallyhappens.

And it turns out to be as predictable as the time you arrive homeevery night. (I mean, that's some other guy crouched in your bushes.Unless you think he's cute.) That's when it becomes an arthouse reduxof Obsessed, which not by coincidence also sucked.

It's saved, to a degree, by Moore, whose confused curiosity isbelievable despite being writ so large across her face you can see itwith your eyes closed. That appears to be director Atom Egoyan's stylehere, though, as Seyfried does the same overemoting to lesser results.Not that she has much to work with. Typical of erotic obsessionstories, the weirdo's character is as thin as your drapes.

It's not a total disaster — there's Moore and that decent writing, andnotwithstanding the large performances he goes after, Egoyan'srestrained direction keeps it from becoming a hysterical mess likemost of its subgenre buddies. But "undisastrous" is not my definitionof art or entertainment.

Grade: C-