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Chloe–A Fatal Attraction

Chloe is a 2009 erotic sleeper of a remake of the 2003 French thriller, “Nathalie,” and directed by Atom Egoyan.

A middle-aged affluent couple, Catherine (Julianne Moore) and David (Liam Neeson), seem, on first appearance, to be a happily married professional couple. Catherine is a caring and devoted gynecologist and David is a professor of music. Their teenage son Michael (Max Thieriot from “Bates Motel”) is   interested in music and has a closer relationship with his father than his mother who desperately wants to be closer.  

When David misses a flight back home the evening that Catherine  is planning a lavish surprise birthday party, she nonchalantly picks up his phone and discovers a photo of David enjoying a drink with a young attractive student.   Long simmering suspicions surface about her flirtatious husband who irritatingly knows he is attractive to other women, particularly his students.

Suspecting infidelity, Catherine decides to hire an escort, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried),  to test David’s  loyalty. As a condition of the employment, she orders Chloe to give graphic details of any sexual overtures David makes when they meet-up.  Increasingly obsessed by Chloe’s relationship with David, Catherine prolongs the assignment for  Chloe to schedule repeated rendezvous. The  arrangements become ever more complicated and transgressive.

Chloe manages to be quite sexually graphic even though most of the explicit content is described in narrative form as  Chloe details the nature of her assignations with David.  The three-party interlocking relationship stuns.

As always, Julianne Moore’s performance is powerful. She portrays Catherine as a vulnerable aging  woman dealing with the realities of her sexual attractiveness and the insecurities that come in the presence of beautiful young women.  Miserably acknowledging that David gets more attractive as he gets older, she wishes she looked as attractive as his students.  This is the heart of the film:  women doubt their sexual desirability in a way that men like her husband don’t.   

And believing  that a marriage will weather the passage of time requires a trust and confidence that women like Catherine do not have. 

Liam Neeson is cast mostly as an object of desire, but in the final scenes we see his sympathetic turn as Catherine’s husband.  If viewers notice that Neeson seems to almost disappear halfway through the film, this is due to the unfortunate death of his wife during filming.  

As for Chloe, Amanda Seyfried is given a Macchiavellian role not seen in a female character since “Fatal Attraction.”  While the part requires her to be sexy and confident, it also requires a subtlety and mystery that could have used more backstory to fully understand.  Nonetheless, Seyfried pulls off portraying a deeply wounded young woman.  Is she looking for a parent surrogate in Catherine or David or both?

This is a highly unusual film with a well-paced delivery. And it is a  reasonably clever thriller full of psychological mystery and unexpected twists and turns.  Chloe will be a welcome addition to your watchlist.  There is enough style and visual panache to keep your eyes engaged!

Availability:  Netflix streaming

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