American cinema is a struggle.
Often everything is spelled out. All endings must be perfect packages neatly wrapped in ribbons and bows. Thinking is not required. Thought is done for you.
It’s the half-hour sitcom syndrome. Once in a while, American cinema takes a chance and borrows from deeper stuff. Chloe is taken from Anne Fontaine’s 2003 French psycho drama Nathalie.
Erin Cressida Wilson’s (Secretary) adaption of Fontaine’s material is brilliant. Going too deep could compromise the plot, so we’ll just say it’s a soap-opera heavy exploration of infidelity, distrust and manipulation that also quietly touches the insecurity of aging and marriage that has become clinical and lost its spark.
Great performances dot Chloe’s landscape. Julianne Moore anchors as the gynecologist wife of a professor with a wandering eye. He is done in an empty, but pitch-perfect performance by Liam Neeson.
Blonde, beautiful and perfectly cast, Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia! Dear John) gives a breakout performance as the prostitute who weaves a spell on them both.
Atom Egoyan (Where the Truth Lies) is a great director and an artist who understands that subtle works. Quiet desperation has power. A look, a gesture and what isn’t said often says more than reams of dialogue.
Ordinary actors can’t pull that off. Neither can ordinary directors.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated R for sex, nudity and mature themes. It opens Friday, April 16 at the Carmike 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.